Inspired by Brent’s consideration of an off-the-shelf blog engine, Santiago Valdarrama has written a post outlining the problems he has with off-the-shelf blog engines. What was so interesting to me about this was that a self-hosted WordPress site addresses nearly every one of his concerns.
1) You don’t have to deal with updates to the platform. Updates and new features are nice, unless they break all the custom code you’ve developed over time.
WordPress has well abstracted APIs that make it easy for your custom code to live alongside the WP core code. I can’t remember the last time I needed to make a change to code I’d written for this site because of a WP core update.
2) You can’t control when bugs are fixed or new features released. If there’s something missing, the only thing you can do is file a request and wait.
Fiddlesticks. You can submit a patch, you can hack your local copy, and you can write plugins to add any features you feel are missing.
3) There’s always a learning curve. Every platform is different, specially when you want to fine tune your layout and deviate from the provided templates.
This one strikes me as a bit silly. There is a learning curve when building your own system too – especially if you haven’t written your layout/templating system yet.
4) Sometimes there’re things you can’t do. Period. (I wanted to use a specific format to display the date of my posts but Blogger doesn’t support it. I had to settle with something else.)
Using a hosted service and using an off-the-shelf blog engine are not the same thing. Self-hosting WordPress removes all of the hosted service restrictions.
5) You have to deal with features you don’t need. Comments? Related posts? Search? Templating engine? Image carousel? I don’t need these, but I’d have to pay the price anyway.
Just as you can customize WordPress to add features, you can also customize it to hide features. Don’t use comments? An included setting and couple of lines of CSS will make it so you never know they were there. And WordPress doesn’t include bloated features out of the box; it wisely leaves that to plugins so that you add what you want instead of removing things you don’t.
6) You can always export your content (sometimes you can’t), but even when the option is right there, the exported format is so messed up that you can’t use it again without a huge clean up. (One time I got my posts exported in a text file with no formatting.)
Again – this is only a problem with hosted solutions. With a self-hosted WordPress site you have full access to your MySQL database, as well as the built-in export features of WordPress.
7) What’s true today might change tomorrow. What you like about the platform might go away some day. They won’t ask for your opinion.
WordPress is Open Source. Anyone can create a fork based on their own needs and preferences.
8) It will never be as fast as you want it to be. If it’s hosted, your traffic will be shared. If you host it yourself, you might never be able to fine tune it to perfection.
WordPress powers around 20% of the internet – you don’t grow that big if you can’t handle scale. Dedicated WordPress hosts will solve these problems for you, and installing a few simple plugins (caching, CSS and JS concatenation and optimization, etc.) will do a ton to optimize a site on an server that isn’t tuned for WordPress.
9) I will never be sure what my content is being used for. I know it’s public anyway, but it’s also in somebody else’s database I don’t control.
Another assumption of a hosted platform. NA for a self-hosted WordPress site.
10) You’ll never get to experience the satisfaction of engaging in a conversation about how you developed your own platform from scratch.
As someone who has hacked on WordPress and related code for the last 12 years, I find this statement absurd. There are plenty of “from scratch” opportunities within the WordPress community, even now. And if what you want is engagement then joining a bountiful and vibrant community of developers is a much bigger opportunity than the potential for a conversation with another NIH hacker.
I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with building your own X. Every time you do that it’s a great learning experience. I’m saying I don’t think it is necessary to get pride of ownership.
There might be something out there that offsets all my concerns, I’m not sure (but I don’t believe so.) My blog is my hobby, and I think I’d never give control again. Every single bit you see here was a labor of love, and I’m not ready to stop thinking about it that way.
I think a self-hosted WordPress site is really close. And I feel exactly the same about my site – it’s mine and I am in control of it. Even though I’ve released much of the code for this site as Open Source, no one else has a site that’s exactly like mine. I’ve made the decisions about how to present my content, how to distribute it to Twitter and Facebook, how to integrate with the responses on those platforms, and how I represent myself online. And I do so while building on a robust base platform that allows me to concentrate on building just the features that are unique to my site.
@alexkingorg @svpino @brentsimmons important to consider challenge of staying on top of security issues for WP noob vs 12 year vet
@aaronbrethorst It’s not hard – upgrade when there is a security release. A WP-specific host does this for you. /cc @svpino @brentsimmons
@alexkingorg @svpino @brentsimmons applying custom patches to stay on top of security issues is non trivial effort
@aaronbrethorst Well, WordPress actually does it for you unless you turn off the feature. /cc @svpino @brentsimmons
Alex King: WordPress vs. a Roll-Your-Own Blog Engine: Inspired by Brent’s consideration of an off-the-shelf bl… http://t.co/d79tpwN7qu
Alex King: WordPress vs. a Roll-Your-Own Blog Engine http://t.co/nOGNJBAKGA
Alex King: WordPress vs. a Roll-Your-Own Blog Engine http://t.co/gdHfKQ4zfI #wordpress #wp
@alexkingorg @brentsimmons @aaronbrethorst Here is my answer to your answer: https://t.co/M5phd2LVFY
I totally agree with you. I don’t know how a guy who is proud of having built his own platform from scratch says things like “It will never be as fast as you want it to be. If it’s hosted, your traffic will be shared. If you host it yourself, you might never be able to fine tune it to perfection.”
I just made wp installation on a VPS with PHP-FPM and Varnish and it runs as fast as if it was simple html, there’s a lot of documentation about it from other users. The cost? US$20 dollars, a couple of hours and basic server unix knowledge (I’m not a server expert, but is really easy to follow tutorials).
I understand when someone wants full control of their code just for the sake of it. But the complains of this guy are not valid. And I repeat, they’re not valid for a “Software Engineer”.
Thanks for your point of view. I appreciate you reading all the conversation. I wasn’t complaining about WordPress at all. The post was somewhat taken out of context and I invite you to read the follow up: https://blog.svpino.com/2014/10/14/wordpress-vs-a-roll-your-own-blog
WordPress is an incredible platform, but it’s complex and requires a learning curve. Also, WordPress comes already with a set of features that, unless you are willing to hack their core, you won’t be able to get rid of (you can always “hide” them, but not “remove” them).
Anyway, I’d never intended to neither complain about WP nor recommend a platform from scratch to anyone wanting to do a blog. I was giving a recommendation to Brent Simmons, for his particular context.
Saying that my points are not valid for a “software engineer” is a bit harsh, don’t you think?
Sorry for being harsh, english isn’t my natural language so sometimes I don’t know if I’m being disrespectful. I didn’t want to sound like that.
I think (and is only my point of view) that wp is really easy to handle for a person with programming experience. I understand wp has a lot of weaknesses but I think (again, only mpov) that the arguments against wp are at the very least debatable.
Have a good day.
No problem. You were not disrespectful. I agree with you about WordPress. It’s just not the solution for my particular case.
Alex King: WordPress vs. a Roll-Your-Own Blog Engine –
Inspired by Brent’s consideration of an off-the-shelf bl… http://t.co/oz3kJhB4hm
Alex King on WordPress vs. a Roll-Your-Own Blog Engine – http://t.co/2uuqqizrqZ
Great points “WordPress vs. a Roll-Your-Own Blog Engine: @alexkingorg responds to @svpino’s response to @brentsimmons http://t.co/cLidqfLRnC
@alexkingorg @svpino @brentsimmons @brentsimmons not only about NIH e.g. WordPress vs static site gen is about not being hacked because PHP™
@gpakosz There are plugins to generate static HTML from a WP site. I haven’t checked them out yet but may soon. /cc @svpino @brentsimmons
@alexkingorg @gpakosz @brentsimmons But then wouldn’t you be using WP as a glorified HTML editor?
@svpino Yes – with rich interlinking features – that’s all it is now. /cc @gpakosz @brentsimmons
New on @alexkingorg: WordPress vs. a Roll-Your-Own Blog Engine http://t.co/5iqYV3kPbz
WordPress vs. a Roll-Your-Own Blog Engine by @alexkingorg http://t.co/JaGLjDf7HR
: Alex King: WordPress vs. a Roll-Your-Own Blog Engine, http://t.co/hlw4lm3EPC #WordPress
I’d add opcache to the must-haves (I don’t use any of the WP-specific caching plugins on my WP site).
SV’s arguments are mostly strawmen, but WP has its issues. The amount of code bloat and sheer number of DB queries required to serve a page is stunning. YSlow compliance is also very hard to achieve. I am considering ditching WP for a static site generator like WP for that very reason (coming full-circle, as I switched from my home-grown static generator to WP circa 2009).
[…] King posted an interesting rebuttal of Santiago Valdarrama’s missive explaining why he’s building his own blog […]
WordPress vs. a Roll-Your-Own Blog Engine http://t.co/kqr9EsoLZr Best way to describe Santiago’s arguments? “Fiddlesticks.”
“WordPress vs. a Roll-Your-Own Blog Engine” ~ Well put by @alexkingorg http://t.co/QR8GRdR9s9
Do you really need a new blog engine? http://t.co/ShqbpjUqOa
[…] are several software tools that I […]