Render is a project by Real Big Marketing that attempts (and succeeds, I believe) to offer a more intuitive UI for handling shortcodes in the WordPress admin.
The video to see how Render works is 7 minutes, but I think it’s worth it to see how the plugin operates and see their take on how to implement a UI for shortcode handling.
The plugin has features built in to utilize shortcodes for rendering queries, buttons, columns, a variety of WordPress functions, and more — all within the content editor.
And that’s where I’m torn on the plugin. It is indeed slick. I installed it and played with it locally. It works quite well. I’m just torn as to whether managing all these fields is the right thing for
the_content. In fact, I really don’t think it is the right place. That said, there aren’t great options available in WordPress for folks that can’t do these things themselves; and under that circumstance, Render can empower less technical users.
The plugin also has EDD and WooCommerce integrations built in, which is pretty neat. If you want to skip the video, but see some of the things the plugin renders, this little guide on their website is fun to play with.
One final note: the Real Big Marketing team is following the lead of others in the community (especially Pippin Williamson & Andrew Munro with AffiliateWP) of putting Render on a public Github repo, even though it’s a paid product. I love that.
I talked to Kyle Maurer — the lead developer on the project — and asked him if they were aware of the Shortcake project — which was proposed for WordPress core and has a similar goal to Render. They are, and he says they’re actually excited about Shortcake.
WP needs to go in that direction. I believe shortcodes as a part of WordPress seriously need a consistent, intuitive UI that ordinary users can utilize and moving the platform in a direction where users never have to see shortcodes is a positive. As far as how that affects us, I think it will a little but much more so if we fail to innovate and continue to push the limits of what is possible. Ultimately it is about empowering users to do amazing, complicated, sophisticated things without requiring them to be or hire a developer