Is React the New WordPress?

I heard this comment from Henri Helvetica during the JamDev conference that made me stop. How is a React developer like a WordPress developer?

This comment from Henri Helvetica at JamDev 2023 caught my attention:

The React developer of today is the WordPress developer of yesteryear.

It seemed like a ridiculous thing to say. How dare I consider myself a WordPress developer!

With the Performance Context

Joking aside, when I step back and think about this, it's a really interesting thing to consider. This particular talk was all about performance, and the comparison between the two makes a lot of sense in that context.

Neither React nor WordPress have been know for being great choices when you care about performance. And yet both are hugely popular, which means that many developers pick these tools off the shelf without considering why they are doing so, or if the tool is built to solve the problems that matter most to them and their project.

From that perspective, I think the base of the comparison is valid, and it would be interesting to explore this as a topic on its own.

Differences Between React and WordPress

It's easy to make fun of the big players. WordPress still continues to dominate the web. And React in incredibly popular on the front end.

There's a lot of nuance to explore in how these tools are different from each other, too. The most fundamental is that they tend to get stretched in the opposite direction. WordPress is a useful turnkey solution for blog sites and simple marketing sites. Making it work with sites at scale is just not worth the hassle (even though many people are doing this).

React, on the other hand, was built to solve Facebook's problems. Facebook — one of the most complex applications on the web. Using React to solve complex, reactive UI problems is exactly what React is for. Not building simple personal and blog sites. It's overkill, and yet so many developers do exactly that.

There's much, much more exploration needed to really get this analysis right. But it's an interesting topic to explore.

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