Thoughts on WordPress

Album Cover: First Impressions of Earth

"Don't be a coconut. God is trying to talk to you."
The Strokes / Ask Me Anything

Posted on July 25, 2007 1:25 AM in Web Development
Warning: This blog entry was written two or more years ago. Therefore, it may contain broken links, out-dated or misleading content, or information that is just plain wrong. Please read on with caution.

Contrary to popular belief, it's been a while since I've done anything with WordPress. On top of that, I've never actually done anything with WordPress. Confused? Visit those two links and hopefully you'll get back on track ;)

Anyway, the last time I used WordPress was when I set up a personal blog for my fiancée about two years ago. It was relatively simple to set up and customize, but my experience with it didn't really go anywhere since she decided to jump ship to LiveJournal or some other hosted site shortly thereafter.

Last Friday I decided to give WordPress a try because I wanted to roll out a blog very quickly. Shortly after registering, I decided that I wanted my own domain name, so I purchased one and then began investigating what it would take to point it at my new WordPress blog. The instructions were simple enough (point at the right nameservers, etc.), but that's when the first catch showed up. In order to map a domain name to my new WordPress blog, I'd need 10 "credits." WordPress credits cost a dollar each, so I needed to lay down $10 on top of the $10 I had just shelled out for a new domain name in order to use it with my new WordPress blog.

Unfortunately, the lameness didn't end there. I soon noticed that the amount of space alloted to me as a WordPress user was limited to 50MB. To get more space, I'd need to (you guessed it) shell out more money for additional "credits." Lame++. Then, I noticed a feature in the control panel (the front-end to their CMS) that allowed me to tweak the CSS associated with my blog. I had already added a theme I liked, but the idea of being able to tweak the CSS to my liking seemed pretty cool. But guess what? To actually enable the changes on my new WordPress blog, I'd need to purchase even more credits! Lame++ yet again.

Needless to say, it was at that point that I decided to cut my $10 in losses and head directly to WordPress without passing Go. After all, there's a reason I'm paying my web host a fee each month, right? I downloaded the latest release, installed it on my web server, updated the nameservers associated with my new domain name, and within a couple of hours (once the nameserver change propagated) I was up-and-running on my own server, where I could do whatever I want with my domain, my storage space and my CSS.

That being said, there are still aspects of even WordPress that I'm not a huge fan of. For example, whenever I try to edit a post (in the "Code" tab, of course) that includes valid YouTube code, it splits the code up on different lines and adds in closing

tags unnecessarily and without reason. So with each edit, I have to manually fix the code so that it remains valid after I save my changes.

I also get this dirty feeling whenever I'm writing a post in that "Code" tab, simply because I feel like I'm relinquishing some control over what the actual code will be over to WordPress. On top of that, it looks like it's pretty easy to break the validity of the source without ever tweaking anything that is directly code-related (i.e. anything that WordPress isn't meant to manage itself under the covers).

All-in-all I think WordPress has made some decent progress since the last time I used it. The theme and plugin architecture is definitely very intuitive and useful. The amount of control that is given to the user makes the CMS very powerful. The time it takes to set up such a powerful tool is grossly disproportionate, which is a good thing.

I don't see myself using WordPress for anything really serious, simply because I like to keep my hands dirty with even the lowest-level XHTML aspects of my websites. I definitely won't ever even consider using WordPress again (hopefully this isn't confusing anymore) simply because I'm already shelling out money each month to get access to the things they are charging for (plus a whole lot more that they aren't). I do see how the latter is a great solution for a casual blogger that wants a flexible, full-featured blogging platform without all the fuss, though.

Comments

Zim on July 25, 2007 at 6:00 PM:

What I really like from Wordpress and CMSs is the "install-and-use" ease. Working on my own CMS takes more time, and probably the code is going to need more work over time. In the other hand, using a CMS you know you are using a reviewed code, probably more secure and strong than a "personal" code. I know PHP, but I don't want to mess with so much code for my blog, so it's easier for me to use Wordpress and let my posts flow.
Anyhow, making your very own code and seeing it working is a very nice experience!

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Ryan (Arcanius) on July 26, 2007 at 12:55 AM:

The best and worst feature of Wordpress is its automatic formatting of posts. Occasionally, I want to strangle that darn paragraphizer. But most of the time it does exactly what I want it to.

Maybe it needs a checkbox?

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Bernie Zimmermann on July 26, 2007 at 1:33 AM:

I like how you put that, Ryan. I'd agree that its the best and worst feature. The lazy side of me loves it, but the anal retentive side of me cannot stand it one bit.

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