Shortcodes roadmap — clarifications

As mentioned in the initial shortcodes roadmap post, the main purpose of this roadmap is to find the best way for improving the shortcodes API and moving it forward. Currently it is slow, fragile, and attempts to handle a lot of edge cases. For this, the most important part is:

  • No shortcodes in HTML tags attributes.
  • No HTML in shortcodes attributes.

There are a few things that deserve to be clarified. Simple shortcodes are great. They are easy to understand and be typed directly by the users. Example: [gallery].

Unfortunately many plugins add complex shortcodes with many attributes and often with nested shortcodes. These are a nightmare for the users. They are not intended be typed directly and can be edited by some sort of UI. Using shortcodes to store this type of data in post_content is not a good idea. Since there is a UI for entering and editing, it would be better to use a simple shortcode to “hold the place”, and save all the data in post meta.

Many of these complex shortcodes also include HTML tags in their attributes. To keep that functionality, the second roadmap draft proposed an extended syntax that allows the shortcodes “content” (the text wrapped by [shortcode] and [/shortcode]) to be additionally separated by delimiters. That would allow for shortcode attributes to contain HTML tags that are stored in the shortcode content.

These delimiters are not intended to be typed directly by the users. They are intended for the plugins that have shortcode editing UI and cannot function without storing HTML in shortcode attributes.

At first look this makes the syntax needlessly complex. However after looking at how complex shortcodes are used now, it is relatively the same: these shortcodes cannot be typed directly and are useless without some sort of UI.

There have been questions about line breaks in shortcode content. It is possible to add support for this. However it will benefit only a very small amount of users. Since shortcodes “live” in HTML context, and line breaks are ignored there, typing in the Text editor and switching to the Visual editor will remove all line breaks. Typing in the Visual editor will add paragraph tags. So only users that never use the Visual editor and have to type long, complex shortcodes will see some benefit.

The Shortcode API Roadmap meeting is in #feature-shortcode today at 17z, which is 2015-10-14 1700.

#meeting, #roadmaps, #shortcodes