Growing JavaScript Skills with WordPress

This is a written version of the talk I gave at the JavaScript for WordPress conference on July 12th.


WordPress has always been recognized as a very welcoming platform for developers at any level of expertise. The block editor introduced in WordPress 5.0 release is not only an entirely new editing experience for users, but it also redefines the way plugins and themes are developed.

In this post, I want to explain many of the architectural decisions that have sought to make the transition as smooth as possible for those familiar with WordPress development. I will discuss all the tooling that the Gutenberg project uses behind the scenes to benefit from the massive growth of the JavaScript ecosystem. Finally, I’d like to demonstrate how you can leverage the same software in your projects using the @wordpress/scripts npm package to improve your skills.

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Starter kit and reusable scripts

The JavaScript ecosystem has reached a very interesting point in its history. There are members of the community overwhelmed by the learning curve required to start a new project and based on that they express JavaScript fatigue. There are also contradicting opinions announcing renaissance of JavaScript because it became truly general purpose language and dominated front-end development. So the question is, how to take advantage of all existing tools but at the same time change the first impression in a way that makes the following joke irrelevant:

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Migrating to Jest test runner

I have already shared my comparison of two JavaScript testing solutions where I admitted that I favor Jest over Mocha. Back then, I listed all major differences between those tools summarized with advantages and disadvantages of migrating to Jest:

Pros:

  • Simpler API, less boilerplate code.
  • Flexible and easy configuration.
  • Test files executed in isolation.
  • Advanced watch mode.
  • Snapshots support = easier start with testing.
  • Code coverage.

Cons:

  • Another migration.
  • Mocha has still a bit better performance (according to my quick tests).

My analysis got very positive feedback, with only a few little concerns, so I got encouraged to take action and verify the assumptions stated. I picked two different projects to play with to ensure both of them will uniformly benefit from using Jest.

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