Embracing WordPress in a Big Way

I have dabbled with WordPress on occasion to see if and how it might be able to help friends and family get started blogging. To that end, some time ago, I experimentally deployed WordPress at DVD Guide to try it out. As I mentioned in my previous post, I do have my own blogging software in PageDrive and one of the systems that uses it, but because I have not been able to devote as much time to the development of either as I would like, their interfaces and functionality are not as refined as I think they should be before I deliver them to other users, so in the meantime, I wanted to see if I could recommend WordPress to those friends and family members who wanted to start blogging.

For a while, the answer was no: I had a lot of concerns about WordPress, ranging from preferences (e.g., terminology and punctuation) to functional issues to security issues. Even if I could overlook matters of preference, the fact that my installation of WordPress was hacked and defaced did not bode well and neither did the fact that WordPress had a tendency to break its own permalinks. In fact, although permalink breakage seemed to be the worst in WordPress 2.0, permalinks still broke in WordPress 2.1.2, which was released just last month. I am not sure whether they still break in WordPress 2.1.3, but users with access to their databases can check their wp_posts.guid values to see if they have fallen out of synch with their corresponding wp_posts.post_name values.

Despite its previous and current issues, though, WordPress has improved to the point that I can now recommend it to friends and family. And not only that: since I want the people I care about to have the best experiences they can using whatever software they happen to use, I want them to have the best experiences they can using WordPress. To that end, I have decided to help them install, customize, and otherwise make the most of WordPress. For example, not everybody wants a blog to constitute an entire Web site (e.g., the line under the title of Stephanie Booth’s Climb to the Stars site says “There’s more to it than just the weblog”) nor for non-blog content (e.g., WordPress “Pages” or image galleries) to be stored within a blog directory; not everyone accepts blog-level navigation as equivalent to or sufficient for site-level navigation; and not everyone wants a blog to have a different visual style than the rest of a site.

For such people, I want to help them use WordPress the way or ways they want to use it—to not merely select and install extant WordPress themes, but to integrate WordPress into their sites. Perhaps not the user login and session systems at this point in time (although that could certainly become more feasible if a future version of WordPress were to abstract those things from the blogging systems), but at least the visual appearance and to some extent, the data (e.g., I have already developed an index-generator that accesses the WordPress database without going through WordPress itself).

Why stop there, though? If I am going to be helping a few people make the most of WordPress, I might as well help a lot of people do it. I cannot offer that help to anyone and everyone who wants it in person, of course, but I can certainly do so via articles and downloads, so that is what I am going to do. I have started building both a Web site and my first original WordPress theme for that very purpose. The site is called Hard-Pressed and the theme is tentatively called “Hard-Pressed In The Shade”. Both are coming along nicely and yes, Hard-Pressed will feature a blog powered by WordPress and my original WordPress theme and the blog will be integrated with the rest of the site. Thus, Hard-Pressed will serve not only as a source of information for people wanting to customize, integrate, and otherwise make the most of WordPress, but also to demonstrate some ways to do those very things.

So there you have it: I am embracing WordPress in a big way indeed.

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