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WordPress finally becomes a real relational database publishing platform

WordPress finally becomes a real relational database publishing platform

Custom Post Types and Custom Fields finally come alive in true relational database publishing without the need to do PHP programming. In the various Beaver Builder Facebook groups there is a lot of excitement around this development. Why did it take so long for WordPress to break through in this area?

Custom Post Types and Custom Fields were ‘just there’ for developers to fit the two in the WordPress datastructure. WooCommerce, Events Manager and many other plugins are based on both custom post types and custom fields. And for the WordPress development team that was enough, they never thought of the end-user without PHP skills, to be able to use custom post types and custom fields in ‘just’ simple but effective relational database publishing.

The WordPress development team did not think that CPT/CF’s could add great value to non-PHP webdesigners

Pods and Beaver Themer

The playing field changed by the strong support of Pods within Themer by the Pods Beaver Themer Add-on. Although Pods itself has a relatively low market share compared to Advanced Custom Fields (pro), their database approach for making relations is just easier to understand and even easier to implement with the Themer ‘connector’. And also Toolset Types is a popular plug-in for creating custom post types and custom fields. Themer already has some kind of built-in-support for the three popular CPT/CF tools in the markt and can work (in some way) with ACF, Pods and Toolset Types. For many flat database solutions without the need for more complicated relational ‘stuff’, this works fine.

CPT/CF playing field

We are curious on how Themer wil develop in the near future. Themer also offers support for WooCommerce, so the shop archive page and the single product pages can be created in any style you like. It is a valid question whether Themer should offer dedicated support for a number of populair plugins. How far could that grow? Or should a kind of universal ‘connector’ be able to do the job for most CPT/CF based plugins?

What route should Themer go? Support for various dedicated plug-ins or a universal ‘fields connector’ to connect to all?

Gutenberg

With the new text editing tool Gutenberg, WordPress is moving to a more ‘block oriented content’ approach. It seems that the developments of pagebuilders influence the way of thinking in the core of the development group at Automattic. Gutenberg won’t be there to play a role in the front-end like pagebuilders do, but new power could be added to the way WordPress handles content in the back-end.

Relational database publishing discussions started long time ago in Drupal

The block orientation would be great for database publishing. If Gutenberg blocks could connect to CPT’s and their connected fields, it would be a great step in developing WordPress into new directions they have never been before.

Another step would be the ‘save as template….’ feature while editing a page in Gutenberg. Making templates in WordPress has always been a job for PHP specialists. We don’t know if the Gutenberg team will be able to influence this part of the development cycle within WordPress, but we think it would have great impact.

Calculation fields

With a history in using FileMaker Pro back in the early 90’s, for us it is very strange to experience that non of the custom fields tools offer so-called calculation fields in their library of field types. How normal would it be to make a calculation using existing fields to calculate something and insert the result in another field. We have some sites with the Advanced Custom Fields plugin, but if we want to calculate something, we have to make small PHP routines to do so. In our minds that is a strange approach. We asked the developers of ACF, Toolset and Pods to look into the possibilities to add such a possibility. Only the Pods team reacted possitive. The screenshot below shows the FileMaker Pro user interface for making calculations between fields.

Example of FileMaker calculation fields

The example below show just a simple calculation to calculate the position of a glas window (portrait or landscape) based on a give height and width (from existing ACF fields). The result will be written and saved in the field ‘positie’. Although it can be done that way, it limits the flexibility of using calcultions for a much broader group of website developers.

Themer fieldsfilter

Last but not least, it would be a great idea to extend Beaver Themer with a field filter, as shown below. I did send a feature request about this, and the reactions were positive.

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