As a web developer, whenever saddled with a project – whether it’s for my own company or someone else’s, the first thing I try to do before writing a line of code is to write down all the requirements and search the web to see if a premade, open source solution is available.
Open Source is a catch-all phrase which refers to any software where the underlying code is explicitly given to the world at large and not copywritten by the author, with the stipulation that while it can be modified and used in any way (commercial or not), it may not be modified then claimed to be owned by someone else. While there are often specific limitations in some licensing agreements for computer code that is considered open source, that’s the general idea.
So why would a web developer stoop to using WordPress? The reason I use WordPress, in addition to customized content management systems we’ve written at Tera Bear Consulting, is the same reason I don’t write my own database software and rely on MySQL — why spend time reinventing the wheel? Granted, there are sometimes very good reasons to write a custom application such as when the requirements are very specific, or when there is proprietary information at stake that needs to be protected. Oftentimes the security of open source software is also superior to that produced by freelance developers, many of whom are not security-focused in their approach.
I once had someone I knew talk smugly about people who used the Apache webserver and how he didn’t need to since Python allowed him to write his own so quickly and easily. I didn’t care to get into a discussion with him about the fact that the Apache project has been in development for nearly 20 years and has more useful addon modules than Microsoft has parking spaces in Redmond, Washington. I don’t get into debates about tools. Everything was written with a purpose, whether it was to do something new or do something better than the other guy.
We released Pro Artist Websites around the same time that WordPress was first released in 2003 with the aim of it being one of the first, truly flexible, easy-to-use website management tools. While now it is not as functional as WordPress when it has all its extra addons properly installed, it also doesn’t break every time the main application is updated, unlike alot of 3rd party tools many WordPress users have come to rely on.
Pro Artist Websites also doesn’t stall out while waiting for an AJAX component to complete a connection since we’re using mostly server-side dependencies and not relying on the client’s browser to do the heavy lifting. Writing code to be as server-side dependent as possible is the old-school approach that we’ve tried to adhere to when the requirements of the project allow for it because it is generally a more stable approach.
The more flexibility and features a given web application provides, the easier it is for one developer’s carelessness to break the site for thousands of users. It’s the same reason we choose FreeBSD Unix over Linux, and why I shun the Google Android in favor of the Apple iPhone, but I’ll save those topics for another blog post.
Until then, aloha and happy surfing.