WordPress 5.4 introduces apply_shortcodes() as an alias for do_shortcode()

WordPress 5.4 introduces a new function – apply_shortcodes(). It’s an alias for the current do_shortcode() function.

The semantics of do_* implies the function displays the result of the shortcode. But that’s not actually the case. In fact, do_shortcode() needs to be echoed to display its result.

Here is the current implementation:

echo do_shortcode( '[wporg]My Text[/wporg]' );
// Displays the result of the shortcode

Semantically, we should be able to do this:

do_shortcode( '[wporg]My Text[/wporg]' );
// but it doesn’t display anything…

As you may know, do_shortcode() is used in countless plugins and themes. So there is currently no option to deprecate it. But if the community can start building a consensus around the alias, apply_shortcodes(), then deprecation may eventually become a real option in the future.

There is a precedent for making this move. It’s the same process the core team followed with get_permalink() and get_the_permalink().

apply_shortcodes is meant to get better semantics: instead of performing an action and outputting to the current buffer, the idea is to apply filters to the input and return a result. The process is simpler, cleaner and more maintainable – not to mention easier to teach new developers.

apply_shortcodes() can be used the same way do_shortcode() is currently used:

echo apply_shortcodes( '[wporg]My Text[/wporg]' );
// Displays the result of the shortcode

Themes/Plugins authors and WordPress developers are invited to start using apply_shortcodes() instead of do_shortcode().

To be clear, there is no plan for deprecating the former function right now. But the sooner developers can all switch to the much more semantic apply_shortcodes(), the sooner the core team can plan to deprecate the old function. With WordPress 5.4, apply_shortcodes() is now the recommended way to display the result of a shortcode.

For reference, see the related Trac ticket: #37422

Copy review: @marybaum

#5-4, #dev-notes, #shortcodes