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React helps use WordPress code in other Open Source projects, note GPL license

WordPress is a hugely popular Open Source. The blogging platform turned content management system runs a large portion of the web. Some sources claim a whopping 25% of all web sites are powered by WordPress. But it has had limited effect on other open source projects.

Code from WordPress has traditionally been hard to reuse outside of the project, due to the codebase being somewhat of a blob that has not enabled use of modules from the project in other products. Thanks to the WordPress Calypso built with React components this has changed.

WordPress Calypso is a shell for WordPress, that uses the REST APIs to communicate to the WordPress.com backend. It is a completely separate application that is built completely with JavaScript. In this case it's specifically built with React.js.

React.js is quite simply the starting force behind the currently prevalent ideal of component based development on the front end. This means that individual functionalities are bundled into complete functional bits that can potentially be easily reused.

With the WordPress Calypso project being Open Source, the component based architecture allows use of WordPress components outside of WordPress. If they don't specifically suit your needs, then you can always fork them and keep them Open Source with public access to your modifications.

Recently WordPress lead Matt Mullenweg blasted Wix for using WordPress code in their mobile app editor:

If I were being honest, I’d say that Wix copied WordPress without attribution, credit, or following the license. The custom icons, the class names, even the bugs.

While the licensing issues need to be sorted, but... this is exactly what it is. The same code. Just like jQuery is the same in Drupal, WordPress and a million other PHP CMSes out there, closed and Open Source.

In the above case it was the WordPress React Native Editor that was in question, but in the future more and more WordPress code can and will be used more and more outside of WordPress now that it's possible. In competing products too, there are plenty of easily reusable UI components available in WordPress Calypso.

After years of one-way use of components and libraries like jQuery and TinyMCE, WordPress code is finally easy to reuse in other projects. The only thing to note is the GPL licensing used, that is known to lead to trouble with the WordPress team.

Written by Jorgé on Thursday September 29, 2016

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