thank you, lord, for debian

Good news for a change: one of the WP projects for the Google Summer of Code is ‘easier template tags’. That’s fast, they’ve only been considering it eleven months.

Also, two of the ten projects revolve around finding out what the competition are doing so we can VANQUISH them mwhahahah! When did WP become ‘the best CMS out there’? My impression was always that they were marketed as a blog tool which you can optionally use as a CMS; competing with MT and Blogger rather than Drupal and Joomla. (Overhauling the page interface strikes me as a very CMS-orientated project as well.)

If they are seeking to reposition themselves as a CMS, that’s an interesting development. It suggests that, in future, those who just want to blog will be steered towards wordpress.com, with wordpress.org becoming an increasingly bulky and complex tool aimed at power users. Ah well, we’ll still have 2.0.

24 Comments »

  1. Actually, a content-management system need not be bulky if it is modular. Modular design is one of the goals of my own Web application and content management platform: modular design can allow reuse of extant systems with little or no modification and less redundancy and it can also allow the exclusion of unneeded or unwanted systems. Greater flexibility and greater functionality can actually be delivered in tidy, discreet packages.

    Personally, I would like to see WordPress’ login and session systems cleanly separated from the blogging systems. It would be nice to see unified user accounts for such WordPress and bbPress and even other applications. It would be nice to be able to add and remove applications and to have the choice of what kind of site to run—just a blog, just forums, just image galleries, a blog and an image gallery, etc.—all while being able to maintain a single set of user accounts.

  2. It’s hard (if not impossible) for me to think about this in any sort of objective manner, given my background. I learned PHP because MT’s template tags weren’t flexible enough. So with that caveat in mind, here’s my take:

    While loops in WordPress are more complicated than they are in Movable Type, is something like <?php the_title() ?> really that much more complicated than <$PostTitle$> ?

    CamelCase and underscores cancel out. Both have angle brackets. WordPress has ?php to open and ? to close, whereas MT has $ Edge to MT because of brevity and open/close-sameness, but do consider that on many (most?) PHP hosts, you can use ?, which makes it dead even again. The only time where Movable Type pulls ahead with absolute certainty is the function-designating parenthesis.

    But maybe that’s entirely too much of a mechanical comparison… maybe it’s more about the fact that MT tags “feel” like pseudo-HTML and WP tags “feel” like CODE

    I’d argue that this is actually one of WordPress’ hidden strengths. Yes, there may be a slightly bigger learning curve with the template syntax, but consider what you have when you learn. You’ve just learned basic PHP syntax. What’s more, you can use that same syntax and the same structures to do things with your blog that WordPress template tags alone can’t realize. What do you have when you learn Movable Type template tags? Just that. If you want to do anything fancy with MT output, you’ll have to learn how to use PHP to manipulate that output. And at that point, you might as well be using WordPress.

    So, for those reasons, I’m hesitant to embark on a journey creating a whole new language for WordPress templates that, while it will be a great crutch for the first couple of weeks, will end up slowing the engine and hindering people’s ability to learn how to accomplish more advanced templating maneuvers.

  3. I’ve heard the ‘learning template functions = learning PHP’ argument before, and if working with PHP-based tags had actually made me any better at PHP I’d concede the point. In practice it just made me better at copying, pasting, and getting frustrated with Codex.

    The main argument for a meta template tag system at this stage is that the current system has been built up piecemeal and therefore doesn’t always make sense, but can’t be tinkered with too much because it would break too many themes. In the sidebar, for example, we ‘list’ categories and pages but ‘get’ archives and the calendar (while, elsewhere, ‘get’ is reserved for data that’s fed into other functions). Some tags include a gratuitous ‘wp_’, some don’t. You can’t put the date on every post without breaking the user’s ability to set the date format in the options panel.

    I have this idea that code is supposed to be logical, and it bothers me when it’s not. I’d like an intuitive, consistent tag system sitting on top so I don’t have to deal with the messy stuff unless I absolutely have to.

  4. Lloyd Budd said

    The ideas and the actually projects selected are chosen by the volunteers who are generously donating their time. Next year you are welcome to generously donate your time to mentor a student.

  5. So it’s Google and the students who’ve decided to push you in a CMS direction with no input from you at all? OK then.

  6. Lloyd Budd said

    Are we speaking a different language? “push you in a CMS direction”?

    As you well know WordPress is a web publishing platform. That pretty much makes it a CMS and great for many people’s online publishing needs whether blogs or otherwise. Many things it does well, many things you would want a “true” CMS for.

    I would have loved to have seen a project where other blogging platforms were considered, and I plan to recommend at least one of the projects looks at least at one of them.

    Maybe we learn something from one of the other CMS that we already consider one of our specialties, or maybe it is outside of our areas of competency. Maybe it is just a failure, but you never know until you try — and we have some very talented people trying this summer!

    But you knew all that, so I am not sure why you write nonsense like “with wordpress.org becoming an increasingly bulky and complex tool aimed at power users”.

    Is there something I can do to help make you just a little bitter happier?

  7. Root said

    Lloyd I think you are being a bit defensive and a bit harsh. WP has become schizophrenic. Com has gone commercial. Org is the rump. Certainly bulky, bug ridden, and noticeably slower than 2 years ago and as always with very uncertain security. What makes it worse is that all the highly desireable qualities of an entrepreneur running a successful business are the complete antithesis of Open Source Development. Many very skillful people have lost faith in WP. There are a number of good reasons for that.

  8. Lloyd Budd said

    Root, how can I make it better? Why so focused on the problems instead of at least suggesting solutions?

    Although, I disagree with “Highly desirable qualities of an entrepreneur running a successful business are the complete antithesis of Open Source Development.” generally statements like that don’t do much for me. I like to talk specifics.

  9. I agree with Bryan that CMS capabilities shouldn’t have to equal bulk, but the unfortunate fact is that the wordpress core has been putting weight on at an alarming rate. When I first started using WP I could FTP all the files on a dial-up connection (it wasn’t a pleasant experience, true, but it was within the bounds of possibility). Nowadays, I baulk at uploading them through broadband.

    Weren’t plugins supposed to make WP a modular system, with the core download remaining a light, basic blogging tool and advanced CMS-style functionality being added through third-party plugins? The WP philosophy used to be that if there was a feature you wanted and didn’t have, you made a plugin to supply it, rather than nagging the developers to put it in the next release. And if it was a good plugin, the community would embrace it. And if it was a really good plugin, it might get rolled into core. Nowadays it seems like there is a lot of stuff in core for the benefit of newbies who are apparently incapable of installing them as plugins (rich text editing, widgets, trendy ajaxified post page, smileys). And there is an ideas forum where users nag Matt about what to put in the next release and plugin developers are conspicuous by their absence.

    So yes, when I hear about people treating WP as a content management system rather than the ‘personal publishing platform’ wordpress.org still says it is, I think ‘uh oh, here comes the 1MB download’. Even MT doesn’t call itself a CMS — it’s a ‘blogging platform’. Put it this way: I don’t see WP on Wikipedia’s List of content management systems. Seems to me it’s a long enough list as it is.

  10. Lloyd Budd said

    That is “that girl again” whose writing I enjoy reading a lot!

    WordPress should be be a good experience for “most” people out of the box, and I would be embarrassed if that did include a rich text editor, drag and drop elements for the sidebar and other things that we “mostly” agree makes for a better experience for “most” people. Sure, there are is also plenty of cruft. And a reminder that comes out of your post and comments — once something gets in, it is really hard to remove.

    My expectation of the CMS related projects is not for something that will go packaged with WordPress. I will wait and see what the results of the projects are. I am hoping the focus is more about competitive analysis and usability. Interesting to me was CMS related projects for WordPress probably accounted for about 1/3 of the applications.

  11. AJ said

    Lloyd, is it really necessary to have a rich text editor? And even if so, one with so much bulk (and associated plugins)?
    Additionally, why are there two different javascript libraries bundled with wordpress (based on my SVN checkout of the 2.2 branch a couple of weeks ago. All this is really unnecessary and only adds bulk to WP

  12. Ah yes, the RTE.

    My own gut feeling is that most people sufficiently techy to sign up for hosting and master FTP (since even if they go for the one-click install option, they’ll probably still want to upload extra plugins and themes) need no more than quicktags. I can see the case for having a rich text editor at wordpress.com, where the majority of users seem to use it and like it, but I really don’t remember any clamour from the .org userbase to dumb down the post page. I seriously doubt whether anyone who was using WP prior to 2.0 bothers with the thing.

    As regards the two javascript libraries, my best guess is that one is for the admin interface and the other is for widgets.

  13. Lloyd Budd said

    I regularly talk, IM, or email with people that are thankful that installed WordPress comes with a RTE editor. Finding a RTE editor does not seem to be a hurdle people want to overcome once they get it installed, or often someone else did the install for them.

    Bulk: maybe, has someone made it into a plugin?

    That bulk probably buys a lot of flexibility. I was 1st exposed to TinyMCE with Drupal. At Flock we also used it for a whlie in the browser, but it did not make sense b/c a lot of TineMCE’s code is to make it compatible with all the different browsers and Flock already knew what browser it was.

    I wonder what percentage of people that use WordPress were already using it prior to 2.0? Have they suffered to accommodate the larger audience?

    TinyMCE directory can be removed from your install without any negative experience if you don’t like it.

    Two JavaScript libraries: prototype was there from 2.1 and it would be poor manners to remove it there any time soon. jQuery seems to be the one that people have settled on (for the next while anyway😉 )

  14. AJ said

    @TGA: Yeah, they are for different utilizations. But is that really necessary? I’m quite sure they can very well use one, either one (though jquery is much lighter and hence preferable)

    @Lloyd:
    Bulk: maybe, has someone made it into a plugin?
    Yes it was made into a plugin (I don’t remember by who but a quick google should get the link) and was I believe subsequently discontinued once tinyMCE made it into WP core.

    it would be poor manners to remove it
    Is manners (in terms of removing a component from YOUR software) more important than user inconvenience? More weight increases download and then upload times. I stay in India and here, the broadband penetration is a paltry 3-5% (on a higher estimate I think) and most others are still on dial up.
    A 1MB upload can take a long time, and longer because it’s many files and not a single block upload. Even on my personal broadband connection(256k, not really broadband but oh well) it takes me sometimes 10 min or so because of the sheer number of files (1000+ I think)

  15. I think the assumption since 2.0 (at least) has been that everyone has broadband. All that javascript in the admin pages really slows things down if you’re on dial-up. And if you want to switch themes, forget it. If you went with Dreamhost and did a one-click install with their theme bundle because you couldn’t face FTPing all those files, it’s going to take half an hour for the screenshots to finish loading😉

    I just unzipped the copy of 2.1 I have sitting in my downloads folder and it’s 2.33MB, 410 files in 52 folders. By way of comparison, 1.5 weighs in at 1.02MB when unzipped, with only 161 files in 10 directories. I’m sorry, but I do not believe that 2.1 has so many more features than 1.5 that it needs to be over twice as big. In fact, I have trouble thinking of a single major new feature between 1.5 and 2.1, just cosmetic bells and whistles like ajaxifying the interface and bundling TinyMCE.

  16. Ryan said

    I don’t see what all the fuss is about. You can use any version you like. http://wordpress.org/download/release-archive/ . In fact, WP is as lean as it ever was and as friendly to dial-up users as it is broadband. No one is being forced to use any specific version. TGA, normally I agree with your opinions (which is why I’ve never commented), but this just seems like your arguing for the sake of arguing.

  17. …except you can’t use any one you like, unless you fancy getting your blog hacked. The majority of new releases are made to fix security holes. You might get away with running 1.5 if you removed the call to the version number you find in most theme headers (it’s only there to make the lives of script kiddies easier), but you’d get precious little sympathy on the forums if anything did happen.

    Actually, reading that paragraph over, the standard argument doesn’t convince me anymore. Because 1.5.whatever was the most recent, most secure release once. And it is reasonable to suppose that the current release also contains vulnerabilities as yet uncovered, so I’m not 100% safe whichever version I’m using. Besides, if I was that concerned about security, I wouldn’t be running Windows XP.😉

  18. AJ said

    Really Ryan, can you use any version? Will the plugins developed for two dot oh work on one dot five? Or themes?
    Security is the no 1 reason, but these matter too. Do you think k2 or some of the other more popular and up to date themes will work on 1.5? Or plugins like Bad Behaviour/SK2 will?

    (I have not tried to run them myself but I’ll be quite safe to say that they will not, especially due to the recent changes to the commenting backend system)

  19. […] have been watching the debate over at WordPress Wank over the whole “is WP a bulky bloated blog tool or a fairly medium CMS tool?” question. Well, it sort of began as “whoopee a WP project is included in […]

  20. Lloyd Budd said

    AJ, you raise important points. It becomes a question of what is the greater inconvenience — how many people are affected and how badly.

    Is WordPress the best blogging platform if authoring over a low bandwidth connections? How about using a desktop blogging client? Does WordPress “fail” gracefully? How are people addressing the issues you describe?

    “that girl again”, do you ideas of solutions to the problems you describe? What you describe as “cosmetic bells and whistles”, a lot of people consider a necessity for a usable experience.

    AJ, K2? I thought we were talking about low bandwidth connections?😉

  21. ray said

    Maybe themes should be tested over dial up or ISDN lines. If they take too long to load, the theme fails the test🙂

  22. Ryan said

    AJ, the original subject was about bulk and WP as a CMS vs. a blogging tool. K2 is out of that argument by default. And yes, Bad Behavior still distributes earlier versions that run on WP 1.5. but ultimately, that is not the issue. It’s if people have choices when it comes to running WP without all the bells and whistles. Security is always an issue and as TGA so rightfully said:

    “Because 1.5.whatever was the most recent, most secure release once. And it is reasonable to suppose that the current release also contains vulnerabilities as yet uncovered, so I’m not 100% safe whichever version I’m using.”

    A site is only insecure when someone decides to hack it and succeeds. I don’t know of any bullet-proof option out there.

    I personally like the direction WP is going. If that changes I’ll move on to a new system or stay with the WP version I like the best.

    Regarding a personal publishing tool vs. a blogging tool vs. a CMS. I think it’s simply a matter of semantics. We are all managing content in one form or another. As blogging evolves, users want/need more options. WP needs to evolve with it’s users. It is doing this by giving them options via WP.com and .org as well as the plugin repository.

    Low bandwith users are definitely at a loss as WP evolves but I think they are at a loss in general when it comes to web. But they still have options with WordPress.

  23. AJ said

    Is WordPress the best blogging platform if authoring over a low bandwidth connections?

    I can and should be. It is one of the best platforms and can be light thanks to its plugin based architecture. That was the original intention of plugins. Plugin the holes/gaps as people preferred or required.

    How about using a desktop blogging client?

    When you are on the move, accessing your blog from PCs (yes a majority of the world still uses them) you need a web interface. So this argument is not very solid.

    Does WordPress “fail” gracefully? How are people addressing the issues you describe?

    Fairly well enough. It’s not perfect, or bulletproof. But it is not so bad either. And I think (I’ve not been following the hackers/contribs lists for sometime now) a significant discussion on improving accessibility and graceful failure was taking place sometime back. I am unsure of the resolution of that discussion.

    The point here is, they might be necessities, but they can be added via plugins optionally. It’s like M$ putting in IE or WMP in windows. According to them, these are necessities but for most of the users, these are just (bad) bells and whistles and there are alternatives.

    Tell me, what is the plugin mechanism left for now? Only to get content from video/music/photo sharing site? (I’m just giving an example like k2/BB above, don’t take it literally)

  24. AJ said

    Sorry for mixing responses, I missed this in the previous comment.

    AJ, K2? I thought we were talking about low bandwidth connections?😉

    Yeah bad choice. My first choice was Sandbox but with the neglect it is in, I skipped it. But it was just an example and not the single fulcrum point in using WP.

    @Ryan:
    AJ, the original subject was about bulk and WP as a CMS vs. a blogging tool. K2 is out of that argument by default.

    And I am talking about bulk. WP is bloating up, too fast. And WP as a CMS can and has been achieved with the help of plugins. Does it really need to be in the core code?

    And yes, Bad Behavior still distributes earlier versions that run on WP 1.5. but ultimately, that is not the issue. It’s if people have choices when it comes to running WP without all the bells and whistles. Security is always an issue and as TGA so rightfully said:

    BB was ONE example . Or do you mean to say that all plugins maintain forked versions for older versions of WP?
    I agree with TGA’s statement in principle. And it’s sense. But that does not mean I should run older code (which might be slower, uses older backend s/w viz. PHP/MySQL) or generally not coded as well as the later versions.
    Unfortunately I don’t have an suitable enough example to make my point on this.

    A site is only insecure when someone decides to hack it and succeeds. I don’t know of any bullet-proof option out there.

    I agree. On the Internet, nothing is safe. But that does not preclude me from making sure that I minimise the risk as much as possible. Otherwise, why not leave the door completely open? Set your site’s files on access +777
    That is a fallacious argument that because something is not safe, you do nothing to make it safer or opt for safer alternatives.

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