The software that powers this very site, WordPress, is three years old today. I’ve been using it for over a third of its lifespan now (there’s a scary thought), and for my needs, it’s the best blogging software I’ve come across. I can’t give a full and completely fair review of every blogging tool out there, but as a previous user of three, I can offer some (possibly outdated) opinions on those.
The good ol’ days of The LBSC were powered by Movable Type. Admittedly, I’m commenting on an old version of Movable Type, and that’s not entirely fair, but I didn’t particularly like it. It’s an incredibly powerful tool, but just somewhat over-powerful, and not terribly easy-to-use. It’s not particularly pretty, either. But the main thing which stopped me using the Movable Type software over here is that it seemed incredibly difficult to install, and it’s emphasised that no support is offered for the free version. Given that I originally hoped to have multiple authors on here, too, Movable Type had a financial disincentive compared with other blogging tools.
As a complete novice, I was taken in by Blogger. This is designed as an incredibly simple blogging tool to use, and there’s no question that it fulfills that requirement. It’s literally click-and-publish blogging, which can be hosted either by Blogger themselves, or can be published to your own host. I used the latter method, and it worked well for some considerable time. Eventually, however, I became frustrated with the limitations of Blogger. It is an incredibly difficult , if not impossible, tool to modify, as it is entirely run by Google, and so outside of my personal control. So if I want to display something in a slightly different way, if Blogger doesn’t have a built-in expression for it, then that’s too bad. Also, every time I made a simple change to the site template, the whole site had to be re-uploaded, because Blogger serves static pages. When you only have a handful of posts, this is no problem. But when you’ve got a wealth of them, it becomes a very real issue, and it can take extraordinary lengths of time to correct the smallest of spelling errors in the sidebar, for example.
So after a while, I moved over to WordPress. I haven’t looked back since. Its got almost everything I need built in, I can tweak the PHP to my heart’s content to do cool things, and there is a huge amount of support available when I get stuck, from the fantastic community who’ve helped me out time and again, to the codex when you just can’t remember the parameters for a particular command. The latest version even looks pretty visually stunning. And on the occasions I think WordPress is missing something, there’s almost always a plugin available to fix the problem. Most recently, the new built-in spam filter has made the pretty huge headache of comment spam on the site a complete non-issue. And all of this for free.
If I was facing the decision of what tool to use again today, there is no doubt in my mind that I would’ve chosen WordPress. I’m unsure whether I’d have gone for the Blogger-style easy hosted set-up offered by WordPress.com, or set up the site myself, as I have done now (which is remarkably easy to do), but WordPress would undboutledly have been the tool of choice. And with the flexibility now in-built to bring posts over from a number of other blogging services, there’s really no reason for anybody not to swtich, even if they already have a blog elsewhere.
So Happy Birthday WordPress. May you continue to grow and develop, and make my life ever-easier.