Adapting WordPress - wednesday 2006-04-05 0106 last modified 2006-04-06 1224
Categories: Nerdy
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I'm not a WordPress user personally, but I do want to recognize its popularity with the blogging community, for its ease of use for authors who just want to do it, and with the open source community, because it is open, and, to me, it does blogging better than most other services and distributions. If I don't sound convinced that WP is the end all, it's because I feel like it's reinventing the content management system yet again, only now with a time-oriented basis. I don't think it's going to pan out as a CMS in the end, but that's for time to sort out.

Now that I've accused WP of being another CMS, I'll back it up by reporting on my experience of trying to shoehorn it into one. The major features I needed for a blog-like website:

  • Aperiodic announcements
  • Regularly recurring announcements relating to new media content
  • Calendaring
  • Assorted pages and sub-pages

Wouldn't you know it, WP is popular enough for there to be plug-ins for all of those tasks or already has some degree of native support for them. Because of a native feature called 'custom fields,' you can pretty much turn a 'blog entry' into any random text-based object with any random properties and values hanging off of it. Sounds a bit like RDF.

This custom field feature is a rathole, though, because WP is opening the Pandora's box of any content associated with (almost) any primary resource, except it's impossible to make a really flexible UI for users or a quickly adaptable API for developers when you have such an open model, especially one that's clearly intended to be hanging off the side and not in the spotlight.

WP does the blogging thing well, but if you need to stray even a little from that model, you'll have to rely on third-party tools or your own smarts to make the leap, and you have some serious performance barriers since you'll be using a massively unindexed table to store your arbitrary data - or you'll have to leave the WP API behind entirely and/or extend it to better fit your needs. But then, as is frequently the case, you may well consider just rolling your own solution. I probably won't since I'm invested now and I'm expecting a fairly niche core audience, but we'll see; I may live to regret this choice yet.

Not that the developers ever claimed WP was a CMS. Keep WP doing the blogging thing and doing it well, and it will be around for a good long time.

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