Welcome to the third major iteration of It’s Fixed in the Next Release. From Blogger (yuck) to Serendipity (which truly deserves more attention than it gets) to WordPress (market share wins, even in the open source world) here we are.
Speaking of open source, what you see here is only possible because of the FOSS (Free Open Source Software) model. Not only is the core of WordPress completely open, most of the themes, plugins, and tools are as well.
Independent of the cost, FOSS made this blog because the theme is a hybrid. The base theme is the free version of “Blogolife”. I’ve made some changes to it, both in terms of some invisible code rework, and by hacking in the tag display from “AskIt”, a commercial template I purchased for a project that died. At first I thought AskIt was going to do the trick, but in the end I just didn’t like the main page layout. Blogolife had the clean traditional blog feel but the display of tags and categories wasn’t all that great (I haven’t done anything to the categories yet).
I also removed all of Blogolife’s admin links and promotions for the “PRO” version. Needless to say I wasn’t likely to be buying that anyway.
It’s interesting hacking on WordPress code, and it’s a classic comparison between simplicity and power. I think it’s possible to keep most of the WordPress API in your head, and its possible to be a true expert on it in a year or so. Meanwhile, I’ve been working with Joomla for almost six years now, and it seems I keep on discovering new tricks, not including the outside-the-core stuff like template frameworks and the like. So there’s a freedom in WordPress that makes it possible to hack bits of two themes together in a few days and get something that works. But at the same time I feel like I’m working in a small shop with hand tools. By comparison Joomla feels like a manufacturing line full of robots — configure each one to do a job then watch the whole facility in action.
Each environment has its place. It’s actually more personally satisfying to feel you’ve built something by hand. WordPress certainly rocks the blogging / simple site space, but it has its limitations. Over in the Joomla development world we wrestle with issues like how to make it so those “robots” of ours plug into each other most effectively and with a minimum of code duplication. While we’re making it easier to plug things together I think we’d also be wise to keep an eye on offering freedom to site builders who need to produce a custom solution but only know the basics of PHP development. We never want to be in the position where someone says “Joomla is a great platform but you need a team of developers to build and run a site.”
After all, market share wins, even in the open source world.