At least, that was the case until the release of WordPress 4.7. This new version of WordPress brought along a restful API for WordPress that allows WordPress to function simply as the content management system in the backend and only do what it was created to do: manage content.
React is especially famous and beloved for its ability to manage the displaying of data on the page and building responsive UIs. It was created by Facebook and is used by many giants like Airbnb and Netflix. It has seen a growth of over 20x over the last few years, jumping from 30 thousand pages to 700 thousand pages within less than five years.
Today, we’ll explore some of the famous WordPress themes built with React that can be used on a WordPress site to take it a few levels up:
React offers many styling tweaks, color manipulation options and above all, a flexible and adaptive layout to style your website.
PressGrid offers a modern frontend for publishing and multi-blogging. One of it’s best features is that it allows interactivity with posts and offers responsive pages and layouts. It has a social login section to connect with facebook and twitter users and supports different multimedia options. From videos, voice recordings, twitter quotes or facebook statuses, PressGrid has it all. The website gives the feeling of being the Pinterest of blogging.
BeesWax is a photography WP theme that uses React too. However, Beeswax’s first aim is maximizing performance for better experiences. In order to do that and speed up the navigation process, it downloads the content visitors would want to access before they do, by pre-caching the assets. This effectively enhances the browsing and navigation experience of the users.
That’s not the only benefit that Beeswax offers, in addition, almost everything offered by the theme can be customized to meet your needs. It’s simple for both development and user use.
Anadama is an open source recipe theme for WordPress pages. It’s built with React and aims for simple minimalistic yet stylish vintage experience. It was originally a small project that aimed to test how React would perform along with WordPress and the output is quite neat. The main advantage here for the seasoned developer is that you have the source to play with an upgrade. Sure it doesn’t offer as many functionalities as the previous three do, but it might be a good way to get into the React WP theming world.
Foxhound is yet another experimental WordPress theme built using React and in fact, it was the first WordPress theme that featured react in this magical world on wordpress.org.
Foxhound is created by the same developer who built Anadama, but unlike Anadama, Foxhound is meant to be a text-based theme. This is a great place to take a look at how the two technologies are merged together and how the first applications and themes introduced React to WordPress. It’s definitely a great place to have an overview of the idea. You can find the GitHub repo here.
Blackhawk is an open source wordpress theme powered by ReactJs and Redux. It shows how full-throttle React can be a part of the WordPress environment, and it uses bootstrap for the UI. While it might be argued that bootstrap constrains the design for professional and unique layouts, it offers an easy way to style the website and skip the CSS hassle that would be needed to create handsome looking web pages that are responsive at the same time.
WReact is also an open source WordPress theme that ships with React. However, it’s not a fully built theme, instead, it is meant for those who want to get their foot on solid grounds and start building their own WordPress theme. It uses Gulp and webpack to compile assets. WReact comes with an example to get the development engine started. You can find the GitHub repo here
However, this opens the world for new possibilities like we’ve seen with Beeswax pre-caching the content. Soon animations with themes and progressive experiences will be possible thanks to the integration of JS frameworks to the WP game and the possibilities that service workers provide. This has given all the frameworks of JS a pretty good headstart in the WP community. Node JS for instance has begun to emerge as a good alternative to WordPress theme building as well. It is because of this and many other factors that the internet these days offer abundant Nodejs tutorials, Angular courses and React virtual classes. This enables developers to not lose out on the emerging trends. The world of WordPress will surely flourish with new experiences soon.