In news close to Voxxed’s heart, considering our entire site sits on WordPress, it’s been revealed this week that JavaScript has ousted PHP as the language of choice for the blogging platform’s admin interface. And with WordPress now powering 25% of the web, this really is huge news. The move has taken place as part of Project Calypso, which is now available as open source code – all the better for nurturing more extensive hacking on plug-ins, custom interfaces, and distributions on the site.

The change comes as part of a “dramatic rethink” of the technology and development workflows underpinning WordPress as a whole – a process which began around a year and a half ago. Project Lead Andy Peatling writes that, although the company’s existing codebase and workflows had served them well, 13 years or so of legacy code was standing between it and the ability to integrate the breakneck fast experience users demand in 2015 as traffic flows run ever deeper channels towards mobile.

For Peatling, “It seemed like collaboration between developers and designers was not firing on all cylinders.” There was only one solution: burning the theoretical drawing board to the ground and start afresh, on a sleek 2015 tablet.

Designed under stringent product goals, Calypso began life as an “aspirational” HTML/CSS design prototype which allowed the team to envisage what the new WordPress.com would look like. Though there was some internal debate over which language would power this development, recent Automattic acquisition Cludup demonstrated “a solid, maintainable, and scalable path towards making WordPress.com completely JavaScript-based and API-powered.”

Alongside a significant cognitive shift for the formerly PHP focused dev team, it was also a huge learning curve for the organisation. For the first time, the company utilised cross-team collaboration on GitHub, and peer code reviews via the pull request (PR) system.

Thanks to its JavaScript codebase, Calypso now opens up the possibility for WordPress to hook into a host of trendy modern tools like node.js, enabling it to run locally on devices in a lightweight fashion, as well as pulling in libraries like React.  There’s also Windows and Linux apps in the wings, and “a ton of stuff to figure out” with things like  plugins, extensibility, contributions API speed, localization, and ensuring the WordPress.com API and WP-API can play nicely with core WordPress.

The last few months have seen a swell of support for the JavaScript ecosystem, with RedHat investing heavily in Node.js. Although many may have missed it in the melee of JavaOne news, the event hosts also unveiled Oracle JET, a JavaScript extension toolkit based on modern JavaScript CSS3 and HTML5 design and development principles. In short, there’s never been a better time to start polishing your JavaScript skills, even if you feel like using it every day would be akin to swapping your sandwich filling from ham to hamster.