Fighting the power

27 February 2005

Cory takes the stepladderGosh, what a weekend. Most enjoyable; some great cooking and dozing on Saturday, and then on Sunday, the second London Copyfighters drunken brunch. Amusing, that; nice brunch, great chat, then on to Speaker’s Corner to fight the power. And then, of course, the pub. Lots of fun. More on this when I have a little more time to write about it… and when my few phoots are on flickr.

(And when I’ve fixed the template to handle left-aligned images correctly. Until then, I must always write more words than my image is deep. How irksome).

A while back I was more than a little scathing about WordPress.

Following the release of WordPress 1.5, aka Strayhorn, I feel I need to post further thoughts. For the past couple of days, I’ve been using it quite intensively, and I have this to say:

I’m impressed.

This is the product I wanted. This is complete, finished, even if there is room for improvement. For me, this is one-point-oh.

Little niggles that have been fixed: the ability to edit other’s drafts. Not just fixed, but fixed elegantly, and a useful resource for those of us who run multi-author blogs. New features: theming system. I don’t have an urge to switch themes a lot, but the way themes are designed is very aesthetically pleasing – template for header and footer, template for main index, and then optional ones for various archives, individual pages. Very easy to understand, quite flexible in terms of display.

Plugins are nice; I created a very basic one (perhaps not even necessary, now I’ve dug more around the syntax) that only displays the first three sentence of a post’s content if the_content() is called on the main index. Dead easy: write a regex, write a function, attach it to a filter or hook, and you’ve got a plugin. A little easier to write than MT plugins, I feel, and certainly it encourages more plugins for smaller tasks – it’s much more user-extensible.

The interface is better, too; I like the Dashboard though I’m not sure about “Planet WordPress”. Custom fields are handy. And I rather like the post-by-email function: simple but effective. Also, it has pretty comprehensive comment-moderation and blacklisting built in, though spam is always going to be a problem.

Downsides? A few. The .htaccess it automatically generates, whilst wonderfully functionally, is almost certainly very overlong.

I’m still not convinced by the tagging. Rather than using MT-style tags (which read like pseudo-HTML), WordPress uses PHP functions. The real killer is the way posts are displayed, with The Loop. I’ve used various CMS systems, all with similar “loop” operations, but WordPress has the most unintuitive. For one loop on a simple blog, I guess it’s OK, but multiple loops get really tricky.

But not impossible. I’ve been putting WordPress through the mill, trying to use it as a CMS for a magazine-type site. Bear in mind that it is emphatically blogging software, and not ideally suited for this (unlike MT which is quite a bit more powerful in crucial areas). WordPress has done very well – a bit of hackery and reading-around has led to six different category loops on the front page, indivual post templates, and contextual lists of “more by author of this post” and “more in category of this post”. Not easy, not impossible. I’ll explain how to use multiple loops and contextual archives in future, as I couldn’t find any good advice on it.

What it’s definitely shown to me is that it’s a really capable blogging engine – Infovore would be a doddle under it. If you push it further, you can get a lot out of it. I’m quite happy now to reverse my position on WordPress: 1.5 is a strong product, with some impressive features and a clearer understanding of what the software wants to be. If you don’t quite need the features of Movable Type, are on a budget, and like to hack PHP, WordPress 1.5 is one of the best blogging tools I’ve used. It’s nice to see some improvement in a product. Like I said, this is the real 1.0. It feels finished.

Observer blog

23 February 2005

Oooh, The Observer have got themselves a blog. Pre-release info from its constructor, designer, and (presumably) Perl munger, Ben Hammersley. Most exciting of all: a lot of the code/templates/plugins/etc will all be released under Creative Commons. Cool!

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18 February 2005

This is just too beautiful: Microsoft are providing a primer of leetspeak for concerned parents. “Rules of grammar are rarely obeyed“. Thanks for pointing that out. LOL!

Damned Machines

17 February 2005

These Damned Machines Are Killing Me – great blog on videogaming. Intelligent, passionate, and unswayed by hype.

New-look Six Apart

17 February 2005

Six Apart have launched their new redesign. It’s chunky, very clear, and friendly (and swathed in Hoefler/Frere-Jones Gotham), but whilst that works for the corporate stuff, I find their columns come out a little “big”. Ah well. Also: trackback but no comments on corp. blogs. Interesting…