I read a disappointing post today in which Kevinjohn Gallagher announced that his agency will no longer be supporting WordPress. I was shocked and saddened by what he felt were the downfalls of WordPress, and I’d like to address a few points here. I hope none of this comes off as attacking Mr. Gallagher, who I do not know and have no personal problem with. I merely wish to express why I think he’s making the wrong decision.
The first, and I think most major, point is that open source software is in the hands of its users. WordPress is an incredibly extensible solution because it provides very easy and frequent hooks so plugins can modify core every which way. It’s this that makes WordPress such an excellent solution for so many organizations including the one I work for, the Bangor Daily News.
What WordPress is not is a complete solution right out of the box. Mr. Gallagher is correct that many of the things he listed off are either deficient of lacking in core WordPress. But almost every item can be addressed easily through a plugin that I can name off the top of my head. (There are a few items on there that I don’t understand, but I’m sure I could find solutions for those issues as well.) None of the items he listed are problems. The plugin system is great in that it can account for an infinite number of caching solutions, or CDN solutions, or single sign-on solutions, or many, many other things you might want to do with WordPress. Many of these plugins are developed by core devs or by people who work closely with the core devs, such as Automatticians or power users that run huge sites.
I was very disappointed, however, to read Mr. Gallagher’s criticism of WordPress’s testing process and its lack of support for ‘edge cases.’ To start with the latter, WordPress’s discontinuation of support for IE6 and IE7, for example, has nothing to do with the core team’s hatred of Microsoft (I know a few people on the core team use Windows exclusively) and more to do with using its influence to increase security across the board, which must be done. In fact, I would think it almost negligent of WordPress to not use its influence in order to get people to upgrade to the newest version of their respective browser. The BDN is a Windows-based company and we have never had a single problem using WordPress because of browser incompatibility, simply because everyone is on the latest version of his or her browser. I’m less familiar with the other edge cases he references, but I will address them along with testing:
WordPress requires companies to be responsible. That includes testing pre-release versions of WordPress to try and find problems and then contributing back to core to help fix those problems. Without involvement, there is no WordPress. So if there are problems, I encourage Mr. Gallagher to submit a ticket to WordPress core trac, and if he or his team is able to submit a patch. Failing that, I encourage him to create a plugin for the repository. Failing that, I encourage him to jump on the WordPress-dev IRC channel where he can talk to a core developer. Without that involvement there cannot be WordPress.
WordPress is not necessarily an easy solution. It requires user involvement in the creation process, just like Democracy requires civic involvement. There will always be people who keep their heads down and don’t get involved, and that’s fine if you’re running a single blog about your favorite topic. But when you’re a power user — either you run a large site or you provide WordPress support for your clients — it’s almost negligent not to be as involved as possible in every step of the process. It might not be as easy, but it will produce better results for you and for everyone else.