Being able to quickly spin up a WordPress instance has been the strength of WordPress ever since its famous “five-minute install”. Upload a few files, configure a few settings, and you’re off.
The friction of uploading files has gotten a lot easier, thanks to plenty of “one-click” install options many hosts offer (including DigitalOcean and Cloudways).
Some companies have tried to abstract the process even more, using the multi-site features of WordPress to fire up disposable instances for testing and demos. WordPress Sandbox and WP Sandbox come to mind. Scaling can be an issue here, as instances run on the same install adding lag to the entire network. I worked on a headless WordPress project that did this in the background for users, and I recall the incredibly long wait it would take users to create a new account as the number of sites in the network piled up.
Enter WordPress Playground. It runs entirely in the browser which is mindblowing to me as a long-time WordPress user. If you’re having a hard time wrapping your head around how it all works like I did, that link to the overview spells it out nicely:
- PHP runs as a WebAssembly binary
- MySQL is replaced for SQLite via a WordPress plugin
- Web server is implemented with the Service Worker API
Dang, that’s cool. The move to SQLite is especially interesting, as it could bring huge performance gains to many sites that might not need the full heft of WordPress — a “WordPress Lite” as Chris recently described it in a different context. In fact, that work is already happening in the experimental WordPress performance plugin.
The evolution to a light, frictionless WordPress is a fun space to watch. I imagine there’s a good chunk of existing WordPress sites that stand to benefit from a slimmed-down CMS. The demo offers a glimpse at what an onboarding experience for that sort of thing could look like.
WordPress Playground: Running WordPress in the Browser