the mother of invention

Lloyd is sad, because the cool kids at Six Apart and OpenID are having some sort of open-source standards-inventing party and Automattic weren’t invited.

Well, maybe they remembered Matt’s reluctance to support Atom 1.0? Or took note of his failure to provide any specs for the WXR export format and assumed he wouldn’t be interested in their venture? Just a thought.

I kind of love how the fanboys in that thread protest that it doesn’t need a spec because it was only ever intended to be used for ferrying content between WP installations anyway. (Who would ever deviate from the One True Path and switch to another application?) It reminds me a lot of how Matt refused for years to include any export features at all, because he thought it was the sole responsibility of whichever tool you were adopting to get your data out of his software and into theirs. Database dumps were considered a perfectly adequate form of export until wordpress.com arrived; if this place had never been invented, WXR would not exist. It’s not a standard. It’s a makeshift solution to the problem of shifting data from .com blogs to .org installs, and nobody at Automattic believes in it enough, or cares enough about data portability, to bother polishing or promoting it.

I have little doubt that the MT export format is technically inferior to WXR (I wouldn’t know, my head’s not that pointy yet), but it became a de facto standard because they documented it and encouraged people to use it. Back in the day, someone wrote a nifty little program to export Diaryland entries in MT format, and I used it to import a year’s worth of posts into WordPress. That didn’t benefit Six Apart directly, but it certainly benefited me. I think that’s probably what they mean by openness.

4 Comments »

  1. Ben M said

    Matt says: <blockquoteIt’s okay, I signed us up for the closedwebfoundation.com and we’ll begin clubbing baby seals and providing exports in plain-text lossy format next week.

    I wonder if he’s bitter? That doesn’t seem like a comment someone would make if they didn’t care.

  2. Ben M said

    Whoops – I forgot to close the blockquote tag. And my “I wonder…” sentence should have a period, not a question mark.

  3. Su said

    I have little doubt that the MT export format is technically inferior to WXR

    If you’re talking about this, that’s pretty much definite unless WXR really sucks. At this point, that format doesn’t even include several bits of entry data, as it wasn’t updated along with the application.

    The new format, labeled Backup/Restore(both are currently available, the old as Import/Export) does provide a full-fidelity backup as far as I’m aware, in an XML format. Or XML-ish; I’ll leave it to people more versed to determine that. Either way, it’s pretty readable and I’d imagine wouldn’t take much to reverse engineer it. I’m not aware of a public spec like for the mtimport format at this time.

  4. I’d say Matt’s point blank refusal to getting OpenID support into WP also adds to the reason of absence of Automattic’s name as well. Indeed the greater reason is Six Apart.

    Btw, I definitely wouldn’t trust WP providing usable export format at all. Think like what a company would do; would they be ‘stupid’ enough to care about people who move away from their lock-in, especially when they are one of market leader? Many other software vendors exhibit similar behavior.

    The resident fanboys are disgusting though.

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