Over the past few weeks, I have been developing a WordPress plugin called Toolbelt, which is designed to enhance your WordPress website with various helper modules. Inspired by Jetpack, Toolbelt is perfect for those who appreciate Jetpack’s features but prefer not to be tied exclusively to wordpress.com and desire a faster website.
Notably, Sarah from WPTavern noticed my tweets about Toolbelt and approached me for an interview. Of course, I gladly accepted the opportunity. You can find the full interview here.
Currently, I’m incredibly passionate about simplifying the web experience. The complexity of web tooling, coupled with the size and slowness of websites and overwhelming advertising practices, presents significant challenges.
Complex tooling makes it difficult for new developers to get started while larger sites contribute to environmental issues and accessibility concerns. Additionally, privacy becomes compromised when incorporating code from companies like Facebook, Twitter, Google (and to a lesser extent wordpress.com). However, there are alternatives.
Now it’s important to address what I mean by “prying mega-corporations.” While not specifically referring to wordpress.com, many themes and plugins link your site to major companies such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter in various ways. For example, Google Fonts provide design flexibility but may also grant Google access to user tracking information including Google Analytics.
Similarly, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter offer like/share buttons or timeline embeds that can track signed-in users across different websites.
Regarding wordpress.com—by using Jetpack—you grant them access to your site content. They create a copy of your site on their platform, enabling features like improved site search or related posts. However, it also means they have more control over your website.
Their statistics feature is quite popular as well. Although not as comprehensive as Google Analytics, wordpress.com stats could potentially be used to track users across the web. While I doubt wordpress.com utilizes that data for any malicious purposes, the potential is worth considering.
To see Jarvis and Toolbelt in action, you can visit my own website where both are currently active and running all Toolbelt modules. As of September 13th, 2019, I eagerly test my own creations!
Recently, I compared the amount of code used in Jetpack with what I’ve written for Toolbelt—and I’m certainly winning (assuming less code is better). Achieving this has been possible through a combination of fewer features and a different approach to development.
Working on Toolbelt has been an absolute joy lately—it scratches an itch for me. Creating these simple yet powerful modules that come together to form something complex is incredibly fun. Additionally, finding ways to build complex functionalities in a simpler manner offers great satisfaction. While I understand that not everyone prefers mega plugins like Jetpack, the initial feedback for Toolbelt has been overwhelmingly positive.
If you’d like to use Toolbelt on your own website, you can easily install it from the WordPress plugin repository here. Furthermore, if you have any feedback or would like to contribute in any way, please feel free to submit issues or pull requests on Github.