in which i am reminded for the four zillionth time that these people have no time for designers

Finally, all those elitists who kept saying you had to be comfortable with PHP to develop a theme are telling the truth:

This document assumes basic PHP editing skills, though you probably won’t have to write and code of your own.

You probably won’t? Ah well, at least now the coders can claim they were right all along; that templates are software and shouldn’t be touched unless random question marks and semicolons hold no fear for you.

Oh, I have basic PHP editing skills, don’t worry about that, so the instructions are borderline comprehensible. I’m just sick of the goalposts getting moved all the time. For 1.2, it was all about total control through CSS and don’t touch the default template. For 1.5, designers suddenly had to deal with a dozen files rather than just one. (There was a lot of other stuff in 1.5 too, such as plugin hooks and internationalisation, but most people ignored that.) Now, for 2.0.3367whatever/2.5, we’re getting pressured into re-doing the work we did for 1.5 to incorporate their trendy AJAX crap.

If you are hosting WordPress on a paid server and suddenly decide that you would rather have your archives displayed above your categories and recent comments at the top, you do not need widgets to accomplish this. You just need to master cut and paste. And given the huge number of themes out there and the tiny percentage which are adopted for wordpress.com, I kind of think it’s up to the admins to widgetize them rather than expecting hundreds of designers to tweak them on the off-chance that they’ll make the Chosen Few.

I mean, yeah, I have some sympathy for the view that there are too many themes out there and we don’t need any more, but for pity’s sake just say that 1.5 themes will not be fully compatible with 2.5. Not that they are ‘broken’ and ‘need to be fixed’. Theme developers are unpaid volunteers. Some of them may even have lives. They are under no obligation whatsoever to mess with a theme that worked fine a couple of months ago just to serve your addiction to trendy AJAX crap.

So let’s be honest for once about the backwards-compatibility thing: say we’re junking 1.5 and we need shiny new themes by PHP mavens. Or maybe just admit that actually you don’t need anything from people who are not Michael Heilemann, then the rest of us can stop wasting our time and switch to developing for Textpattern.

(Oh, and don’t even get me started on the bizarreness of marking up section headers as <h2> and claiming this to be the ‘most semantically correct’ way of doing things. Sidebar labels are more important than post titles? Only if you believe people’s sidebars are more important than their content. I don’t, but evidently I am alone in this.)

16 Comments »

  1. Jason said

    Widgets? WTF? First I read about them… What on the earth is the point of that whole exercise? Change for the sake of change or what?

    Please tell me a widget is not going to mean tons of AJAX (that term still makes me think of the bathroom cleaner more than anything else…) crap included on the page so end users can do something totally useless and un-needed like rearranging the sidebar on your site to suit their needs?

    Is it maybe to pave the way for commercial widgets? I’m just not seeing the whole point of it…

  2. Alan said

    I made a rant on Widgets (and Akismet, but that’s anoter story) but never posted it, so this is the first public airing of my opinion.

    My main gripe with the damn things is that, even though it’s a plugin, the WordPress devs. are pushing it like never before. As far as I’m concerned, if this was a a feature they wanted everyone to use, they should’ve just written it into the base code for 2.0.3 or something. Forcing everyone to rely on a goddamn plugin shits me off (like Akismet for spam control – why improve the in program spam methods when you can force people to rely on plugins and outside servers? I mean, fixing something in the program??!?! That’s just stupid! Only someone fucked in the head, like SixApart, would do that!).

    The fact that it almost forces designers to use AJAX and other shitty methods is even worse – I don’t like AJAX. On principle I refuse to use AJAX, because if someone’s so bothered by a quick page reload they can get out of my site. If I have to use it for 2.whatever, then it’s TextPattern ahoy… or I could finally get around to writing my own app. Whichever seems easier (irony says my own app, from experience).

    And yeah. I don’t like Widgets, and I don’t like what WordPress devs have been doing lately – namely making the whole process to run WordPress more complex. Akismet was the first step, Widgets is the second step and next thing you know to use WordPress you’ll have to manually code your own login form. Fun.

    [Note: I’ve been reading this blog for ages, but this is my first comment. Sorry about that. lol]

  3. Anil said

    “Only someone fucked in the head, like SixApart, would do that!”

    Um, what? We don’t rely on outside servers for the junk folder built into Movable Type. You can of course add plugins to add additional rules, but you’re not only impolite, you’re wrong.

  4. Alan said

    I wasn’t implying that you did. The whole point of that mini-rant was to point out that SixApart fixed the spam filters INSIDE MovableType, instead of sending it somewhere else for processing. It was meant to come off as a good thing, but maybe I laid on the sarcasm too heavy. lol

  5. […] Meanwhile, WordPress Wank is distinctly unimpressed with the recent release of the WordPress Widgets plugin. It’s nice to see some snark aimed at WordPress; not that I have anything against them you understand, but a healthy dose of scepticism is always, erm, healthy. […]

  6. wank said

    The plan seems to be that widgets will be core in the next major release (along with other .com-originated bloat like WYSIWYG spellcheck), so if they apply pressure to theme developers to widgetize their themes now, there’ll be fewer people whining that the shiny new feature doesn’t work later on.

    But the onus has always been on the end user to edit their themes to incorporate any plugins they wish to use. Why is it suddenly up to the theme designer? And surely people who can’t figure out how to tweak their own sidebars would be better off on wordpress.com anyway?

  7. Andy said

    trendy AJAX crap

    trendy AJAX crap

    Who said anything about AJAX in Widgets? Javascript, sure, but there’s no XMLHTTPRequesting going on here. It’s all HTML forms, baby.

  8. wank said

    Well dynamic-sidebar.php looks pretty damn AJAX-y to me, but if you say it’s not I stand corrected.

  9. Vidar said

    The plan seems to be that widgets will be core in the next major release (along with other .com-originated bloat like WYSIWYG spellcheck)

    Which is why there’s a whole bunch of people using that “1.5.3” install, myself included.

  10. Anil said

    Sorry, on re-read it’s clear. You’ll understand that sometimes I’m thin-skinned.🙂 Anyway, there’s always more than one way to skin a cat. Having *both* options would be nice for any of us who blog.

  11. shorty114 said

    I’ve already gone to Textpattern… not only is it faster (ahem… less extra crap), it’s much lighter and its base set of features is limited (no crap you don’t need [ widgets, WYSIWYG editing/spellcheck] — plugins for TXP are great). I might look at the 1.5.3 install, after hearing Podz talk good of it, but we’ll see…

  12. wank said

    I like textpattern, but it always seemed more complicated than I needed it to be (more like a CMS than a straightforward blogtool). I stuck with WP for my personal blog because I needed the LivePress plugin to x-post to lj. But a) that breaks in 1.5.3 and b) I’ve installed Performancing anyway, so it may be time to give Txp another look…

  13. shorty114 said

    TXP made no sense at all to me in the beginning (having come from a WP world), but after a while it just started to make sense, and once I got past the trouble of making a static home page (this was for a business site), all was good…

    I’d recommend giving it a second look. I’m still amazed by the speed.

    Just as a warning though, the templating system is a little weird.

  14. Root said

    I like my TXP install Apropos widgets: What is currently happening is that as WP iterates through its three times a month *upgrade* they keep changing the freakin markup in the flamin widgets. One moment the *titles* are ul li h2. The next they are just ul li. But even then its not consistent. One *set* of widgets can and commonly does – contain both. This is causing havoc in the theming community. Not to mention that at com in at least some widgets they have ditched the frakin ul li ul malarkey completely – which is what I have been praying they would do FOR YEARS. Lists are dead. Long live display:block. But there is no coherent policy or plan. The code is gyrating like a crack addict at a barn dance.🙂

  15. Root said

    The h2 as menu title is a Michael Heilemann ism. It crept in in Kubrick. Nonsense. Complete nonsense.

  16. […] I’ve made up my mind. after reading things like this and this, I can safely say I wont be making any themes for 2.x. Why? Cause I’ve always hated […]

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