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Use Vue.js and the WP REST API to build WordPress themes as SPAs with dynamic routing, HMR for development, SEO enabled, and SSR capable. Demo:
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README.md

Vue.wordpress icon

Vue.wordpress

A Wordpress starter theme built using the WP REST API and Vue.js. Optimized for SEO, performance, and ease of development.

This theme is intended to be used as a foundation for creating sites that function as a single-page application (SPA) on the front-end, while using Wordpress and the WP REST API to manage content and fetch data.

Check out a demo of the theme

Table of Contents

Features

  • Front and Back-End run on same host
  • Supports various client/server code partitioning strategies for optional SEO optimization
  • Hot Module Replacement ( HMR ) for development
  • Vue.js Single File Components
  • Production / Development Webpack configurations
  • Dynamic routing as set up in WP Dashboard ( Settings > Permalinks )
  • Vue Router internal link delegation ( no need to use <router-link /> in components )
  • Document title tag update on route change
  • Consistent in-component REST API data fetching
  • Integrated REST API request caching and batching
  • REST API Data Localizer for state initialization and making back-end REST API requests
  • Normalized data structure
  • Pagination enabled
  • Utility components, including ResponsiveImage, SiteLoading, ArchiveLink, e.t.c.

Libraries

To promote flexibility in implementation, styling and dependencies are limited. That said, the theme requires the following libraries:

Usage

  1. Clone or download this repo in your /wp-content/themes directory and activate
  2. Clone or download the REST API Data Localizer companion plugin in your /wp-content/plugins directory and activate.
  3. Ensure settings in Settings > Permalinks do not violate rules as described in Routing.
  4. Install dependencies npm install.
  5. Build the theme npm run build

Development

  1. Start development with HMR npm run dev
  2. Edit functions.php so Wordpress enqueues the bundle served from webpack dev server
// Enable For Production - Disable for Development
// wp_enqueue_script('vue_wordpress.js', get_template_directory_uri() . '/dist/vue-wordpress.js', array(), null, true);

// Enable For Development - Remove for Production
wp_enqueue_script( 'vue_wordpress.js', 'http://localhost:8080/vue-wordpress.js', array(), false, true );

Deployment

  1. Build the theme npm run build
  2. Only include Wordpress theme files ( i.e. style.css, functions.php, index.php, screenshot.png e.t.c.) and the /dist/ directory
  3. Edit functions.php so Wordpress enqueues the bundle served from your /dist/ directory
// Enable For Production - Disable for Development
wp_enqueue_script('vue_wordpress.js', get_template_directory_uri() . '/dist/vue-wordpress.js', array(), null, true);

General Overview

  1. Wordpress creates initial content and localizes a __VUE_WORDPRESS__ variable with initial state, routing info, and any client side data not accessible through the WP REST API.
  2. Client renders initial content, and once js is parsed, __VUE_WORDPRESS__ is used to create the Vuex store, Vue Router routes, and the app is mounted.
  3. Vue takes over all future in-site navigation, using the WP_REST_API to request data, essentially transforming the site into a SPA.

Routing

Permalinks to Routes

By default, routing works as defined in Settings > Permalinks. You can even define a custom structure.

Settings > Permalinks Screenshot

✔️ 'Day and Name' /%monthnum%/%day%/%postname%/

✔️ 'Month and Name' /%year%/%monthnum%/%day%/%postname%/

✔️ /my-blog/%category%/%postname%/

✔️ /%postname%/%author%/%category%/%year%/%monthnum%/

Exceptions

Using 'Plain', 'Numeric', or any custom structure that uses %post_id% as the sole identifier.

/%year%/%monthnum%/%post_id%/

/archives/%post_id%/

However, if you combine the %post_id% tag with the %postname% tag it will work.

✔️ /%author%/%post_id%/%category%/%postname%/

If for some reason you're set on using the post id in your permalink structure, editing the Single.vue component to use id as a prop and fetching the post by id instead of slug should make it work.

Using 'Post name'

/%postname%/

However, you can add a base to make it work

✔️ /some-base/%postname%/

Notes on Permalink Structure

  • Using /%category%/%postname%/ or /%tag%/%postname%/ will cause problems with nested pages
  • Problems with the permalink structure are generally because the router can't differentiate between a post and a page. While this may be solved with Navigation Guards and in component logic to check data and redirect when necessary, the introduced complexity is out of scope for this starter theme.
  • Routes for custom post types will be needed to be added as needed.
  • Routing is by default dynamic, however when a structure is defined it could be in the best interest of the developer to refactor out some of the dynamic qualities.

Category and Tag Base

If you want to edit the category and tag permalink bases within the same Settings > Permalinks screen, that is supported as well.

Homepage and Posts Per Page

Additionally, in Settings > Reading you can adjust what your home page displays and posts shown per page ( labeled 'Blog pages to show at most' ).

Internal Link Delegation

Within a Vue application, all links not implemented with <router-link /> trigger a full page reload. Since content is dynamic and managed using Wordpress, links within content are unavoidable and it would be impractical to try and convert all of them to <router-link />. To handle this, an event listener is bound to the root app component, so that all links referencing internal resources are delegated to Vue Router.

Adapted from Dennis Reimann's Delegating HTML links to vue-router

This has the added benefit of being able to compose components using the 'link' property returned from WP REST API resources without having to convert to a relative format corresponding to the router base for <router-link />.

Instead of:

<router-link :to="convertToRelative(tag.link)">{{ tag.name }}</router-link>

You can do:

<a :href="tag.link">{{ tag.name }}</a>

State Management and API Requests

A Vuex store is used to manage the state for this theme, so it is recommended at the very least to know what it is and become familiar with some of the core concepts. That said, you'd be surprised at the performant and user-friendly themes you can build without even modifying the Vuex files in /src/store/.

Vuex Initialization and Schema

Normally, you would find the schema ( structure ) of a Vuex store in the file that initializes it (or an imported state.js file ). Even though it is initialized in /src/store/index.js, the schema is defined in functions.php. This allows you to use the use the REST API Data Localizer to prepopulate the store with both WP REST API data in addition to any other data you may need for your state not available through the WP REST API.

Schema

// functions.php 

new RADL( '__VUE_WORDPRESS__', 'vue_wordpress.js', array(
    'routing' => RADL::callback( 'vue_wordpress_routing' ),
    'state' => array(
        'categories' => RADL::endpoint( 'categories'),
        'media'      => RADL::endpoint( 'media' ),
        'menus'      => RADL::callback( 'vue_wordpress_menus' ),
        'pages'      => RADL::endpoint( 'pages' ),
        'posts'      => RADL::endpoint( 'posts' ),
        'tags'       => RADL::endpoint( 'tags' ),
        'users'      => RADL::endpoint( 'users' ),
        'site'       => RADL::callback( 'vue_wordpress_site' ),
    ),
) );

Initialization

As you can see below, the __VUE_WORDPRESS__.state key is used to initialize the Vuex store.

// src/store/index.js

const { state } = __VUE_WORDPRESS__

export default new Vuex.Store({
  state,
  getters,
  mutations,
  actions
})

More advanced implementations may want to decouple this localized store from the Vuex store, but I think it decreases the initial complexity.

Requesting Data

Making WP REST API Requests

You will not see any WP REST API requests within the components of the theme. Instead, Vuex actions are dispatched signalling a need for asynchronous data. If the data is not available in the store, only then is a request made. When the request is returned the response data is added to the store.

Request Caching

Every time there is a request for a list of items, a request object is generated once the response is received.

// Example request object
{
  data: [ 121, 221, 83, 4, 23, 76 ], // ids of items 
  params: { page: 1, per_page: 6 }, 
  total: 21,
  totalPages: 4 
}

This object is added to the store and next time a list of items of the same type and params are requested, the data key is used to create the response instead of querying the server.

Note that these request objects are not created for requests for a single resource by its identifier because checking the store for them before making a request is trivial.

Actions Api Reference

Request an item of type by its slug

this.$store.dispatch('getSingleBySlug', { type, slug, showLoading })
  • type is the key in the store and the endpoint for the resource
    • string
    • required
  • slug is the alphanumeric identifier for the resource
    • string
    • required
  • showLoading indicates whether a loading indicator should be shown
    • boolean
    • default: false
Example
// request a page with slug 'about' and show loading indicator
this.$store.dispatch('getSingleBySlug', { type: 'pages', slug: 'about', showLoading: true })

Request an item of type by its id

this.$store.dispatch('getSingleById', { type, id, batch })
  • type is the key in the store and the endpoint for the resource
    • string
    • required
  • id is the numeric identifier for the resource
    • number
    • required
  • batch indicates whether a short delay will be added before making the request. During this delay any requests with duplicate ids are ignored and ids of the same type are consolidated into a single request using the include WP REST API argument.
    • boolean
    • default: false

View the theme demo, open the Network panel of your browser, and navigate to a posts feed to see the batch feature in action.

Examples
// request a tag with an id of 13 with batching
this.$store.dispatch('getSingleById', { type: 'tags', id: 13, batch: true })
// request a tag with an id of 21 with batching
this.$store.dispatch('getSingleById', { type: 'tags', id: 21, batch: true })

// Even if these are called from different components or instances of the same component, the batched request would look like /wp/v2/tags/?include[]=13&include[]=21&per_page=100

Request a list of items

this.$store.dispatch('getItems', { type, params, showLoading })
  • type is the key in the store and the endpoint for the resource
    • string
    • required
  • params are the parameters to use for the request
    • Object
    • required
  • showLoading indicates whether a loading indicator should be shown
    • boolean
    • default: false
Example
// request the first page of the most recent posts limited to 10 posts per page
this.$store.dispatch('getItems', { type: 'posts', params: [ page: 1, per_page: 10, orderby: 'date', order: 'desc' ] })

Getters Api Reference

You'll notice the arguments for the getters are a subset of their corresponding action arguments. This is because the actions use the getters themeselves to make sure the data is not already in the store before making a request.

Get an item of type by slug

this.$store.getters.singleBySlug({ type, slug })

Get an item of type by id

this.$store.getters.singleById({ type, id })

Get a list of items

this.$store.getters.requestedItems({ type, params })

SEO and Server Rendered Content

How It Works

What enables SEO and server rendered content with this theme is the routing. The Vue app routing mirrors that of how Wordpress resolves query strings to templates using the Template Hierarchy. So, on the server side, you know exactly what data the app will need when it renders at a specific location. The problem then becomes how to render the app with that data. Technically, the WP loop and template functions could produce output for crawlers, but it would be unusable for the app. Instead, the REST API Data Localizer is used to simulate the relevant GET requests internally corresponding to the WP template loaded, and localize that response data for the app on render.

The Three Basic Approaches

Each approach provides either explicit setup or specific examples and includes the php knowledge required to implement.

Pseudo Headless

Minimal to no php knowledge required

With this implementation, all you need is an index.php file that renders the element the app will mount on. Add your <html>, <head>, <meta>, and <body> tags, and call wp_head() and wp_footer(). These calls ensure Wordpress still manages <title>, adds <meta>, and enqueues scripts and stylesheets as configured.

Example index.php
<!DOCTYPE html>
<html <?php language_attributes(); ?>>
    <head>
        <meta charset="<?php bloginfo( 'charset' ); ?>">
        <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1">
        <?php wp_head(); ?>
    </head>
    <body>
        <div id="vue-wordpress-app">
            <!-- Enhancing this approach, you could show
            a loading indicator here while your app js
            is parsed and data is fetched -->
        </div>
        <?php wp_footer(); ?>
    </body>
</html>

Optionally, you can remove wp_head(), or wp_footer(), or even both and hard code in your <script>, <style> and <link> tags. In this case, the REST API Data Localizer would be incompatible and you would need to refactor the initialization of Vuex and Vue Router so they weren't dependent on its localized data.

Pseudo Headless SEO

Crawlers will no longer be able to properly index your site because even if they could parse js, they would still need asynchronous data on initialization. However, if SEO is not a concern of yours, no harm no foul. On the other hand, assuming you call wp_head() and the routing is properly synced, social sharing links should still work properly, as wp_head() manages meta in the <head> of your site.

Preload Data

Minimal php knowledge required

This approach allows you to eliminate all initial REST API requests, effectively decreasing initial time to interactive, and allowing crawlers that can render js to index your content. Wordpress resolves the query and uses the appropriate template as per the Template Hierarchy. Within these templates, you can just make the appropriate requests based on your apps needs. Since the Vue Router route components correspond to the WP templates this becomes straightforward.

The examples below will utilize the REST API Data Localizer and assume a schema as shown here. If you are confused on its usage follow the link and refer to the docs.

Example single.php

Assuming you need the post and its featured media, categories, and tags.

<?php
get_header();

$p = RADL::get( 'state.posts', get_the_ID() );
RADL::get( 'state.media', $p['featured_media'] );
RADL::get( 'state.categories', $p['categories'] );
RADL::get( 'state.tags', $p['tags'] );

get_footer();
Example category.php

Assuming you need the category, and N posts from X page that have that category ( N refers to the posts per page set in Settings > Reading ).

<?php
get_header();

$category_id = get_query_var('cat');
$per_page = RADL::get( 'state.site' )['posts_per_page'];
$paged = ( get_query_var( 'paged' ) ) ? get_query_var( 'paged' ) : 1;


RADL::get( 'state.categories', $category_id );
RADL::get( 'state.posts', array(
    'page' => $paged,
    'per_page' => $per_page,
    'categories' => $category_id
) );

get_footer();

The preceding examples use get_header() and wp_footer(), which are Wordpress functions that include the header.php and footer.php files respectively. If these functions were used in the Pseudo Headless Example there would be three files that looked like this:

index.php

<?php
get_header(); ?>
<!-- Enhancing this approach, you could show
a loading indicator here while your app js
is parsed and data is fetched -->
<?php
get_footer();

header.php

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html <?php language_attributes(); ?>>
    <head>
        <meta charset="<?php bloginfo( 'charset' ); ?>">
        <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1">
        <?php wp_head(); ?>
    </head>
    <body>
        <div id="vue-wordpress-app">

footer.php

</div><!-- #vue-wordpress-app -->
<?php wp_footer(); ?>
</body>
</html>
Preload Data SEO

When you preload required data, the Vue instance has everything it needs on render. This allows crawlers that can render js to index your site appropriately. However, it should be mentioned that just because these crawlers have the capability of rendering the js before indexing it doesn't mean they will. Here's an article about it for more information.

Of course the added UX benefit of this approach is that the end users will be able to interact with the content pretty much immediately ( after the js is parse and rendered, and not have to wait for the app to fetch data ).

Progressive Enhancement

Intermediate php knowledge required

The third and final approach involves recreating the php templates with the REST API Data Localizer corresponding to your different route components. The beauty of the approach is that you don't have to ( and probably shouldn't ) fully recreate how the Vue instance renders the app in your templates. You can opt for a progressive enhancement approach, creating skeleton templates that Vue enhances on render. By default, the theme fully recreates these templates, but it is a starter theme, so this makes sense. You can see this by viewing the theme demo, disabling javascript in the developer tools, and reloading the site.

Example home.php
<?php
get_header();
$paged = ( get_query_var( 'paged' ) ) ? get_query_var( 'paged' ) : 1;
$per_page = RADL::get( 'state.site' )['posts_per_page'];
$posts = RADL::get( 'state.posts', array( 'page' => 1, 'per_page' => $per_page ) ); ?>

<main>
    <section>

        <?php
        foreach ( $posts as $p ) {
            set_query_var( 'vw_post', $p );
            get_template_part( 'template-parts/post-item' );
        } ?>

    </section>

    <?php
    get_template_part( 'template-parts/pagination' ); ?>

</main>

<?php
get_footer();
  • get_template_part() is a wp function that includes the php template using the argument passed
  • set_query_var() is another wp function that sets variables you can access through get_query_var() in your template-part ( you can't pass arguments to get_template_part() )
  • Notice that the query vars set correlate to what's passed to the props of the vue component
  • If you want to see the post-item and pagination files refer to the /template-parts/post-item.php and /template-parts/pagination.php
Progressive Enhancement SEO

Crawlers can index your content and you don't have to rely on their ability to render js. Your users get content instantly without waiting for the Vue instance to render. The perceived load time is improved further as users get content instantly and enhanced with functionality and additional content once the Vue instance renders.

Upcoming Features

I do plan to extend the functionality of the theme depending on whether developers find it useful. Some things I plan to add support for ( in no particular order ) include:

  • Search
  • Comments
  • Page Templates
  • Post Formats
  • Widgets
  • ACF
  • Dynamic routing for custom post types

Final Thoughts

I hope you found this documentation useful. If there are any other topics you would like me to cover, or need clarification on feel free to add an issue.

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