WordPress needs more dev-rel

The WordPress ecosystem is very good at talking to each other. We do so on platforms like the official WordPress Slack, Post Status, Twitter, and many other places. We are, however, not as good at keeping up with the rest of the open-source world – something Marieke recently mentioned in her column too – and I think this is where we are missing many opportunities. In this post, I explain why WordPress needs more developer relations (dev-rel) and what we could do to fix it.

I’ve recently been diving into a fascinating ecosystem of new open-source startups. I started by looking at the investment portfolio of OSS Capital, which Matt pointed me to. Automattic is an investor in them / partners with them; I don’t know the exact details. It has many interesting startups: apps like Cal.com, a Calendly alternative, which also allows you to self-host. Or OpenStatus, an open-source monitoring & status page system. Or Formbricks, an open-source surveying platform. All these companies link to each other, talk about each other, they have “OSS friends” pages on those sites telling their users about each other. But what bothers me: none of them talk about WordPress.

Some of them do WordPress a bit. For instance, Cal.com made a WordPress plugin and then promptly forgot about it and never updated it again. And honestly: that’s a shame. It’s a shame not just for them but also for the WordPress ecosystem. And it happens because we have no one actively maintaining those relations and telling them: “Hey, you could have a ton of users for your platform if you made it a bit more easily accessible to WordPress users.” (While we’re at it, we could also help them set up better blogs. It’s apparently not fancy to use WordPress for those blogs (they mostly use Next.js), but the result is that most of their blogs are horrible.)

So let’s fix WordPress developer relations!

The fix to this problem is actually incredibly simple. We don’t need one individual to do this. We need to all do this together. The power of WordPress is in the number of people we have! If you look at new open-source projects (and you should, I think a lot of these have the potential to save you thousands of dollars a year on SaaS fees), check whether they have WordPress integrations. If they don’t, create an issue on their GitHub. These people think and talk like “us” in many ways, and they also spend a lot of time on GitHub like every WordPress contributor does, so use that to your advantage!

I’ll do this myself; I’ve already made an issue on Cal.com’s plugin repository to update their plugin and create a Gutenberg block. There are many of us; together, we could really reach out to all those new open-source tools and help them and WordPress thrive!

A headshot of Joost de Valk, author.

Joost de Valk

Joost is an internet entrepreneur from Wijchen, the Netherlands. He is the founder of Yoast. Joost is married to Marieke, who is also Yoast's former CEO. Marieke and Joost have 4 kids together and run Emilia Capital together, an investment firm.


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