The Hacks of Modern WordPress Theme Development

David Bushell:

I loathe what WordPress development has become. If you haven’t kept up with Gutenberg and full-site editing (FSE) you may be surprised at how radically different modern WordPress themes are — and not in a good way.

Modern WordPress theme development is a series of hacks which purportedly simplify parts of a theme by drastically overcomplicating other things. For years, it has not been possible to load fonts from providers like Adobe in WordPress’ block editor. This is not an edge case issue — everybody wants web fonts — nor is it a particularly unique example of how broken the WordPress theming environment is. If you want to use a web font loaded as a CSS file, you need to do it the old fashioned way.

I am sure there are good reasons to migrate away from the HTML-in-PHP standard of how WordPress themes used to work. But when I am building something for WordPress, I find myself fighting its newer structure constantly. Every time I do, the simplest and most predictable solution is to resort to twenty-year-old techniques — not only because I know them well, but because they are frequently the only things which work.