A new category structure in WordPress

The proposal

I personally don’t like the way wordpress presents categories, with URLs such as “http://example.tld/category/some-category”, and especially not the possiblity to put a post inside several categories. That’s a job for tags. Therefore I suggests a new category structure where we use a page as the parent (or category) of posts.

URL hierarchy

Pages gets a URL like “http://example.tld/my-page”. By using a page as the category of our post we can have a URL like “http://example.tld/my-page/my-post” or “http://example.tld/my-page/2007/04/14/my-post” for our posts. As a bonus the “category” page would work as SEO Siloing.

New page template

This would also bring up the need for a new page template similar to the archive template, where the latest posts inside the category/page can be displayed together with the content of the page. An example would be that the five last posts in that category/page could be listed beneath the page content. This would replace the category templates where the file name of the template files ends with the ID of the category, such as “category-14.php”, which is much harder to maintain on a page with many categories.

Post templates

With this solution the posts will have only one category, the page it was assigned. That way it is possible to have post templates based on the nicename of the page. This will solve the problem that I have today when I need different layout of my posts based on which category it belongs to.

Default page for posts

The default category for posts will then (of course) be the front page, and a post on the front page will get a URL as “http://example.tld/my-post”.

Database structure

Posts and pages uses the same database table ($wpdb->prefix . ‘posts’) and we then need a link between a post and a page to make this relation possible. My purpose would be to create a new table ($wpdb->prefix . ‘post2page’) to handle the relation between posts and pages where we will have two columns, one primary key that would be the “post_id” and the other would be the “page_id”, both referring to the same posts table and the column “ID”. This is because I want to leave the posts table as is and as well making it easier to extend this relation later on.

Category management

There would then be no need for the categories as we know it from todays WordPress. Tags, that will come with the WordPress 2.2 release, will be able to replace the functionality of adding a post to multiple categories.

I wrote this as a ticket on WordPress Trac.

Update: 15.04.2007

A category can have subcategories to make up a hierarchy, but pages can also be ordered like that. A page can be a subpage of another page.

It might be desirable to have pages that are not behaving as a category for posts. This functionality can be achieved by adding a checkbox to control this the same way comments and pings can be turned on and off on a page. Alternatively the author of the page can select a template that doesn’t display any posts related with the page.

There are users that insist on placing a post inside several categories. A solution to this will then be to allow for multiple posts-to-pages associations by using a combined primary key in the post2page table over both the “post_id” and “page_id” columns.

Update 15.04.2007 (2)

I know it is a bit radical thinking and a big change to WordPress by doing this, but you might want to write posts that are related to your page. For example if you write a page with information about WordPress and your plugin development, then you probably want to publish your new plugins as posts, not as subpages of the WordPress page. The exception from this is pages such as “about”, “legal” and so on, but with the ability to disable posting to those certain pages (see above) this makes it possible.

It was just a suggestion to improve WordPress. It is not a specific issue I’m having any longer, since I managed to give posts in different categories the diffent look I needed by placing both the logic and the view/html inside a plugin. A bad solution, I know, but it works. I didn’t want too much logic in the theme files that are dependent on some plugin. The different looks I needed was not only when displaying the posts on the category page, but also when using the “single” template.