There are many great functions built into WordPress that you might not use as a developer. This depends on how you build your sites and what your client requirements are. The Customize API is one of them.
Starting out as a blogging tool, it sometimes amazes me how far WordPress has developed as a content management system. Ten years ago, it seemed like most discussions about new features in the forums were met with a “that’s not what WordPress is meant for” response by many users.
The aim is still to keep core WordPress functionality lean, but there is a lot of exciting possibilities built-in and ready to be switched on when needed.
I generally build bespoke websites with functionality particular to a specific client. Hence it is only recently that I started working with the Customizer.
Edit and visualise
The Customize API “is a framework for live-previewing any change to WordPress”. Rather than having to make changes in the admin – save, check the frontend, adjust, re-save, check again – the customizer allows a developer to add options to an interface. The user adjusts these and sees the changes in real-time, but before publishing them.
This is especially useful for theme developers, when non-technical users want to customise their site without modifying theme files or accessing their server.
However, it is also very useful when building custom themes for a client. You can logically group many theme options together. Additionally many core functions can simply be activated and you don’t have to rebuild them from scratch.
Options can be extremely diverse or specific. Some of the common ones are the tagline, header, background image, navigation and colours. Some of these are accessible in other parts of the admin, some will be specific to the customizer.
What is coming next
The great thing about it being part of WordPress core, is that it continuously gets developed. In the upcoming version 4.5, a responsive preview setup as well as logo support will be added.