New Proposal on Trac to Remove Post Formats from WordPress Core

Before the release of WordPress 3.1, quite a few users cried out for the implementation of a core way, which would allow them to easily format the visual appearance of their posts, according to their content type.

This idea seems to have stemmed from Tumblr, which had already become hugely popular, partly because of its awesome micro-blogging style format options, which allowed users to blog as often as they liked, and in shorter bits.

So, in an effort to appeal to a greater audience, and make their pre-existing users’ lives easier, a a radio button box was implemented to the core of WordPress (with version 3.6), which allowed users to customize the way each and every one of their posts was presented; they had the option of choosing between a multitude of default formats (as long as their preferred theme supported them), such as:

  • aside – minimal style with no title
  • gallery – ideal for viewing images
  • link – good for linking to another site
  • image – used when posting a single image
  • quote – used for presenting quotes, with specific locations where the name of the quotee and the quote itself would appear
  • video – for sharing a single video, or a playlist
  • audio – good for pod casting, or for sharing an audio file
  • chat – used when uploading a chat script

Looks like the users’ voices were eventually heard, and that they got what they were asking for all along, right? Well, not exactly; in truth, ever since Post Formats were implemented, they have not been upgraded or improved in any way at all – which is problematic, considering how finicky and inconsistent this core feature seems to be.

Besides the Post Formats’ behavioral issues, there were actually quite a few functionality-related problems, as well; they would not appear by default in WordPress installations, and needed to be enabled by a coder. Upon being enabled, they would require some design work by the themes’ developers, so that the users could actually see what they were doing. After all that hassle, the feature would become accessible, but their UI position was still kind of obscure while in the WordPress Post Editor.

You can understand how this entire deal was kind of hard to explain to the end users, most of whom didn’t really need to use the feature, anyways.

In an effort to address this issue, Morten Rand-Hendriksen, who has been teaching WordPress via Lynda.com, has created a ticket on trac, requesting that the Post Formats feature be removed from the platform’s core, since it rarely behaves as it should.

According to Morten Rand-Hendriksen, Post Formats support is not consistent across the various WordPress themes out there, and sometimes the panel and options disappear between themes.

Another major issue is that sometimes the feature’s behavior ends up causing posts to appear broken or glitchy, in the eyes of the viewers.

Not to mention that each theme developer can customize their theme’s Post Format options to behave in any way they choose, which may end up confusing the user. So, when a user switches to a theme that supports a new set of Post Formats, all their former assignments will be altered, as well. Post Formats don’t really have a use case anymore, to be honest. They seem to have been replaced by the goal of developing modular post editing options, instead. The feature’s behavior can actually be mimicked by theme creators by using categories, or other custom taxonomies, thus rendering it obsolete.

Finally, Morten Rand-Hendriksen asked for the Post Format feature to be moved into a plugin, which would allow it to evolve alongside WordPress, and also inspire potential experimentation and ideas for its improvement. If not, it could always just be abandoned entirely.

Posted in Other News.

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