Blather long

WordPress as a platform

Apparently,this time last year I was also puttering about with wordpress.

As I was wrestling with Livepress, and with getting it to work with Tom Selah’s nifty conditional text direction plugin[1], I ran across a post by Matt Mullenweg, the developer of WordPress, linking to a rant about how WordPress “spoils” developers. Behind this diggable title is a confused argument that WordPress is so good that (a) it makes other projects appear sucky in comparison and (b) it will prevent any other blogging tool from emerging.

That last statement makes one immediately think of Google, a company that took over a niche that had previously been controlled by a few major players, and that now dominates its field so much that the best way of looking at it as not as a competitor, but as a platform. I think something similar is happening to WordPress as a result of its success, and I think that point seems to have been missed in the Neosmart dude’s piece.

During the past couple of months of fiddling with WordPress, I’ve noticed some signs that it’s also become a platform onto its own. If before its success lead to (and was greatly helped by) a slew of custom themes and plugins, I’ve now seen a couple of examples of whole applications built on top of WordPress.

K2 is a sort of “mega-theme” by the same designer that created the ubiquitous default theme that ships with WordPress (Kubrick), which integrates a whole bunch of plugins, has AJAX-y magic pixie dust sprinkled liberally all over, sidebar widgets and the option to add your own styles – themes within themes!

Lightpress is even more ambitious, and attempts to provide a complete alternative front-end to WordPress. It takes the opposite tack from K2, and instead of loading each page full of gimmicky javascript goodness, it purports to offer a much faster interface through more optimized database queries (it should probably be installed on a fresh install of a slightly older version of wordpress to work – I didn’t manage it).

Personally, I’d love to see an attempt to build a more powerful management application for WordPress, but I understand that front-end stuff takes precedence. I also suspect that WordPress’ front-end code is prettier and easier to work with, while the back-end is more of a mess, which is why some areas there have remained pretty much unchanged.

I also suspect we’ll eventually see wordpress-based applications that do something pretty different from vanilla blogging. I mean the platform is easy to install, well documented, has tons of add-ons and is very hackable. Perhaps something like this will help us move away from the main “problem” I have with WordPress: When you have such a tool readily available, every web-site problem looks like a nail, I mean looks like it can be solved by installing a blog…

[1] – the sad solution was to brutally copy Tom’s code in bulk and paste it into ljsynch.php.

1 reply on “WordPress as a platform”

As you may or may not know, I’ve set up a nice WordPress 2.0 site without the help of K2.
I’ve made some decent progress and I’m quite happy with it. I’ve made my own customizations and modifications, and it seems to be pretty good.

What do you use to crosspost from your blog to LJ?

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