Oftentimes, one of the great things you hear about WordPress is its low barrier to entry.
Depending on who you ask, this may be seen as a good thing or this may be seen as a bad thing. Whatever the perspective, I think there are inherent problems with treating any language and/or platform that way.
At best, experienced developers can pick it up quickly. At worst, beginners feel as if they’re lacking because this “low barrier” doesn’t actually feel so low.
A Low Barrier To Entry
First, every language and/or platform has a barrier to entry. How it’s set is usually dependent on how much experience a given developer has with the tools, similar languages, and the understanding of each of the moving parts that make up the application.
If a person has never done any type of web development, then WordPress doesn’t have a low barrier to entry; instead, they’re left with having to work with a database, a web server, and at least four languages – easily more if you include pre-processors – to make something happen.
Tack on an unfamiliar API, a lack of understanding of relational databases, and a combination of procedural and object-oriented programming and you’ve got a lot to learn.
Other Web Development
But is that all together different from any other web development?
Or maybe you’re trying to do something with a more advanced stack such as Rails – then you have a framework, the Ruby language, the standard web languages, and other framework features (such as migrations) to learn.
Or turn to something completely different like Objective-C or Swift for building tools for iOS. At this point, you have a completely new foundation off of which to build an app – an environment, design principles, a new language, a strict compiler, and more.
Use The Right Language
Everything has a barrier to entry but to claim something has a high or low barrier is dangerous because it may make some potential programmers over-confident in their abilities, or it may make others feel dumb.
Rather than describing things in those terms, first learn a bit about those to whom you’re talking. Since all things are relative, it may be safe to use that type of language; however, if not, be realistic and share what each person will find when jumping into whatever environment they’re headed.