Why I’ve Become a WordPress Fanboy

When I began blogging in 2004, Movable Type (MT) was the only real option if one wanted to download software and build a blog/site (MT became company Six Apart and MT is what their hosted blogging service I’m using, Typepad, leverages). The success and momentum of MT and the cheap and great features of Typepad turned my head and the latter was my choice.

At that time, my analysis showed that WordPress wasn’t quite ready for prime-time and I wasn’t willing to bet my blogging future on it. I’ve gotta tell ya though, things have changed!

WordPress has their own free blog hosting service, downloadable software to install on your own server(s), hundreds of templates, and something that surprised and delighted me: incredibly clean and easy to understand code.

I need to say right up front that I am not a coder or developer (I’m a “suit”, a sales/marketing/alliances exec-type) but am a halfway decent “mechanic” and can goof around with PHP and CSS to fix and tweak stuff all day long until I get to the end-state desired. Of course, it doesn’t take long for me to scream out in pain and beg for help, but I’m getting better at this coding stuff and the accessibility of WordPress code lessens my painful struggles.

In the past couple of years I’ve been involved in installing, developing and deploying a wide range of open source solutions like Drupal, Joomla, phpBB, ZenCart and several more. I’ve personally experienced many disparate approaches and conceptual paradigms; various administration interfaces; install procedures both easy and made just for geeks; and the strength or weaknesses of the ecosystems that have popped up around these various packages.

Here’s the primary reason I’m now a WordPress fanboy: I’m involved in a brand new blog/site launching Q1 and have realized during my mucking around in the guts of WordPress (and the theme  I bought) that from WordPress itself to the ecosystem surrounding it, this is the easiest to use and most robust open source platform out there and the ecosystem is delivering an amazing amount of innovation around it.

If you require a commercial platform with all the requisite support options demanded by today’s enterprises, then I’d choose one of the Movable Type Publishing Platform options. If you’re considering a personal or small business blogging platform, WordPress is it. You can even consider building your own blogging network with WordPress Multi-User (MU). Any way you look at it, WordPress is one amazing (and free) chunk of value that I’m pleased to gush about like any good fanboy should.

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7 Comments

  1. Christopher Murray on December 10, 2007 at 2:51 pm

    Steve, I completely agree with everything you say. I am totally given over to WP. In fact, I use it to create client sites where they can own and manage their own content. This is huge and new for so many people. But I have to add that one of the reasons I really love WP is all the plugins available. I have All-in-One SEO for tagging, Flickr Photo Gallery for beautiful integration of photos albums, NextGen Gallery which provides support for lightbox-like portfolios, among many others. This is a complete content management system.

    I also want to offer my sincere condolences on the loss of your friend Marc. He sounds like an amazing guy, and he truly was much too young to leave us.



  2. PXLated on December 10, 2007 at 3:27 pm

    You always seem to be concerned about security Steve. Kind of surprised you tout WordPress with all it’s security problems. TypePad (1) and ExpressionEngine (1) are a lot more secure than WordPress (63), Drupal (57), or Joomla (73).
    Many of those WordPress (and Joomla) vulnerabilities come from the many third-party add-ons or plugins. Of course, you can’t do much with WordPress without those, not much is actually built-in once you get beyond the basics. I agree with you though that you can get a quick, basic, good-looking blog going relatively quickly. Just watch out for the security issues and plugins breaking with WordPress updates though.

    You can check vulnerabilities here…
    http://www.securityfocus.com/cgi-bin/swsearch/swish.cgi?query=Wordpress&metaname=alldoc&sort=swishlastmodified&sbm=bid&start=60



  3. Christopher Murray on December 10, 2007 at 3:44 pm

    I might be mistaken, but a quick look through that list of security issues reveals that a) most of those vulnerabilities are logged against older versions of WordPress, b) there are several duplicate records, and c) most of these are things that can be done without. I use a handful of plugins (usually ones recommended by power-users) and I have yet to find anything unusual. I wonder if you would mind posting some specific concerns. If I am incorrect in my assessment I would appreciate some further guidance.
    Christopher



  4. Steve Borsch on December 11, 2007 at 2:54 pm

    @Christopher: Thanks for the condolences on Marc and the comments.

    @PXLated: To echo Christoper, as of v2.3.1, all known security exploits have been resolved.

    Security is always an issue, but choosing the right tool for the right job overrides it. Typepad is hosted as is WordPress.com which limits vulnerabilities and yes, using 3rd party plug-ins is always dangerous which is why I don’t use ones that open holes.

    A completely controlled system like EE — though the install base is undoubtedly significantly smaller than any blog installed base — is in theory more secure and the security model may be so but there is also 100x less energy in the ecosystem surrounding it too.



  5. Lance Lavandowska on December 12, 2007 at 8:45 am

    You don’t mention any, so I wonder if you looked at any of the Java-based blogging solutions (there are several open-source options). I was one of the early developers of Roller , and though I haven’t had time to work on it the last couple years it has only grown and improved and is now part of the Apache Foundation.



  6. Steve Borsch on December 12, 2007 at 9:18 am

    @Lance: Nope, no java solutions are on my radar. There is this CA blogger and IT firm head who said it best as an answer to your question, “Java is taking a beating in better mass adoption against PHP simply because it is harder to setup in web hosting environment. PHP and even Ruby is available as an Apache module which is very trivial to setup and use. JSP / Servlets on the other hand is much harder to integrate with Apache.”

    IMHO, *that* is why solutions like WordPress work so well and have so much momentum. Is it the right tool for every job? Of course not. Is a java footprint better for the enterprise than, say, Movable Type Publishing Platform? Quite possibly but I actually don’t care since the enterprise isn’t the engine of growth in the world — it’s innovators, creators of new forms of value and small businesses who are and all of them need easy and yet powerful tools.

    People with modest capabilities can do amazing things with the tools like WordPress and don’t require investing in developer talent to do an install or maintain the tool. Tools like it also don’t require complex machinations to create working extensions (i.e., plugins or themes) to add robust capability. I have never, ever used any java-centric toolsets without heavy developer involvement in the implementation and ongoing maintenance.



  7. PXLated on December 13, 2007 at 12:19 pm

    — EE…may be so but there is also 100x less energy in the ecosystem surrounding it too —
    True but that doesn’t necessarily mean much. If there are 1,000 plugins where 990 are crap or something you don’t need, the size of the ecosystem doesn’t matter. Now if your clients site gets hacked and your the person they call first, that matters and you’ll probably start thinking about security over 1,000 plugins and a big community. 🙂



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