After some prodding from Ryan and a noteworthy adoption by Zeldman, I recently checked out the latest version of WordPress. Since my last survey, it has grown into a quite capable site management platform. Every one of my use cases is addressable through existing plugins, and there is a vibrant ecosystem centered on WordPress as a platform.
I have a few complaints about the technical architecture and implementation details of the product… but that no longer drives my selection.
So, I’ve decided to switch. I’ve spent a few days migrating content, configuring, and trying out a few plugins. Everything is just so easy in WordPress, I’ve begun to think of it as the Macintosh of personal site tools.
SnipSnap was like using Windows. There was a lot of potential there, and a lot of users making it do wonderful things, but every step felt like a battle against ancient design decisions on a platform whose authors don’t really care about it.
XWiki reminded me of FreeBSD (or Linux)… robust, flexible, and ready for you to build whatever you want. An active user community and smart developers wait to help you build your dream tools. But if you want to do anything, you’ve got some serious learning to do first. Someday, they’ll get around to slapping on some of that “usability” paint that’s the rage these days.
WordPress reminds me of Mac OS Classic (9). The technology is dated, and stability depends on a lot of third-party code playing nicely with each other. Nonetheless, the development community is lively enough to provide everything you need, and is judged by a sophisticated user audience that will not embrace kludgey interfaces. In the end, it just works.
It may not be the OS X of its market yet, but it has a chance of getting there. The liveliness of the WordPress ecosystem brings me confidence that when some Ruby-based replacement comes and takes the torch, that I’m now in the mainstream and will benefit with migration tools, functionality ports, etc. The recent Jobsian fascination with simplicity (version 2 has a smaller feature set than its predecessor) offers tremendous comfort that I won’t find myself wrestling to extract my own data again next year.