The 2016 Stack Overflow Developer Survey is out. It’s got a ton of data and it’s been shared around a good bit already.
In terms of WordPress, it appeared on the “winners” list in terms of “trending tech”, but the survey notes that WordPress development is also the second most “dreaded” technology. Predictably, it’s caused heated discussion on Twitter and elsewhere.
Surveys aren’t perfect and this one certainly has the bias of the Stack Overflow community, but there’s much we can learn from it as well. Not all of the discussion around this survey has been positively, unfortunately, but some of it certainly has.
Ryan McCue tipped off the discussion by accurately noting that WordPress’s position in such a survey is problematic, and noting that we have to change its perception amongst the broader development community.
Alain Schlessler has a pretty typical wishlist for the type of change most often requested (that I see at least), and includes stuff like bumping the minimum PHP version, transitioning fully to OOP, Namespacing, using a package manager like Composer, and more. The point is less about what specifically people are asking for, and more about how the WordPress core team can work with folks on making WordPress attractive to develop on while also maintaining some important core philosophies — especially the commitment to backward compatibility.
It is indeed concerning that some of the brightest minds are turned off by developing for WordPress. At the same time, the reasoning behind many WordPress stances is completely sensible. It’s finding when and where and how to move forward that’s the hard part, and it doesn’t happen over night.
If people don’t take anything else away from these kinds of debates, I hope that they’ll realize that the core team does listen, and also is just as critical of WordPress as the most vocal critics out there. They work on core all the time and they know its weaknesses; they want to improve it to. It’s really inaccurate to say they don’t.
As Chris Wallace brilliantly put, the biggest threat to WordPress isn’t another CMS:
Every community needs critics but they also must have civil discourse and respect. The people who are trying to simply improve things and make them better, easier to use, they can only take so much of a beating from these people before they leave. When an open-source project loses a valuable contributor who drives value and advances the effort… well, everyone suffers, even the cynics and skeptics who drove them away.
Within the WordPress community, I must issue a call to civility and respect in all conversations surrounding its development. This issue is paramount to keeping talented people inside the WordPress ecosystem and working towards a better future for the platform. Without that respect, we will begin to see many contributors abandon the project and others fail to see value in contributing at all and simply watch from the sidelines.