[wp-hackers] WordPress Maturity (was)Re: hate

Shasta Willson shastaw at gmail.com
Tue Apr 30 14:55:06 UTC 2013

On Tue, Apr 30, 2013 at 4:51 AM, John Blackbourn
<johnbillion+wp at gmail.com>wrote:

> I'm genuinely interested in what you mean by this and why you wrote
> it. Why do you feel you have less freedom with WordPress than you did
> two years ago, and why do think it's now all about the money?

I can take a crack at this.

When I started building WordPress sites well before 3.0 they were a pretty
decent fusion of "you can put up a simple blog with no programming" and
"you can program whatever custom thing the client wants in a fairly
straightforward way."

With 3.0 there was a major revision to the front, but also to the code. At
that point I was pretty enthusiastic about a number of the new features and
figured the aches and pains would get sorted through as the code matured.

But the changes since then have moved towards a more commercial interface,
rather than a programmer-friendly one at the same time that WordPress is
being touted as a business solution and being adopted by clients who want
more and more customization. It's not really mature enough to be a stable
business app in several regards (buggy custom types, some weird stuff in
image handling, no smooth deployment process, etc.) but it's losing that
smooth ease of use for bloggers too because there are so many things being
added. As an example, doing custom stuff to the header area now requires a
much deeper understanding of WordPress, not just PHP. This is, in part, a
tradeoff of growth. Software never expands to new 'easier' end user
functions without sacrificing simplicity of code, and most of what's
happened to the header is objectively a win, and it doesn't stop a
programmer who knows WordPress from customizing.

But what about the new "text" view? Every one of my clients calls me up to
hand-tweak the display of content on a page once in a while. That task just
got less reliable and more expensive with the newest iteration and the
admission (by name change from html to text) that that's not REALLY a
programmer's view to customize display of content. Why can't I customize it
as I need to? Why does it strip CSS and do odd things to space? Was there
an actually compelling case for that?

Some of these are growing pains and to be expected, but in part these are
issues with a community that, while fundamentally impressive in what it has
accomplished, nonetheless seems to lack a certain maturity of software
experience. I have been shocked to be told right here, by leaders, that the
problem with updating a database when moving from development to a live URL
is not a problem with WordPress. Search and replace in a database is a
fundamentally unsafe operation, and to recommend third party tools for this
absolutely necessary function suggests a real lack of experience with real
world large-scale (i.e. corporate) sites.

As one final example of what I see as a "teenage growth period" rather than
"selling out", I fully expect to have a  couple of suspects here explain to
me in glorious detail why and how I'm wrong. At least, that's the response
I have gotten, not from lurkers or noobs, but from some of the luminaries
of WordPress when I have raised issues that affect many of my clients'
adoptions before. Rather than wanting to learn from the on the ground
cases, people who raise these issues are often told we're doing it wrong or
we should buck up and be a real programmer and write a script, or...

I hope this may be helpful. I really love WordPress, and when I reinvented
myself the most recent time, it was the technology I focused on. I'm old
enough to perhaps futilely wish that I can spend the rest of my career
developing depth on the bench in one area (it was Java before WordPress)
and I'd like to see this community do well for some time to come.

To that end, I think there are some real issues with some of the recent
WordPress directions, but I've found limited interest in discussing them
politely and with an open mind.


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