Why WordPress?

wordpress

I said earlier that I would write about why I've made the move from Movabletype to WordPress. I want to say right at the start that my decision really isn't a criticism of Movabletype. It has served me extremely well for more than a year, and has made my life immeasurably easier. But one thing I've found as I've been keeping this blog is that your needs (and skills) change as time goes on, so that you can't necessarily forsee what you will need in a blogging tool a year or two years down the line. The thing that prompted my itchy feet in the end was the problem of rebuilding the site.

Movabletype (MT) and WordPress (WP) have a lot of similarities (indeed, many of the new features I've included in my new design could have been accomplished with MT), but one fundamental difference: MT produces static web pages, and WP produces dynamic ones. This difference is an important one; every time the content of the page needs to change in a static system (which can happen quite frequently with a weblog with comments, trackbacks and so on), the entire page needs to be rebuilt. If you have monthly and category archives, those pages need to be rebuilt too. Rebuilding is pretty speedy when you have a small number of posts, but it gets slower as time goes on and you accumulate more content. However, with a dynamic system, the changes are made the instant someone reloads the page.

I tried a number of different blogging tools, but eventually settled on WP after setting up a test blog and playing with it for a while. It's a great system — extremely easy to install and configure, and yet with a lot of scope for advanced customization. Better yet, it's Open Source, so anyone can contribute hacks and fixes for it. It's also free as in beer. Not that I begrudge paying for software, especially something that I depend on every day. I donated to MT when I started using it, and I consider that money very well spent.

So, what's so great about WP? As I said, many of the features can be achieved in MT with plugins, but these are the main virtues of WP ‘out of the box':

Those are just the features that are built in; you can add a lot more functionality with Hacks, which is remarkably easy — even for someone who doesn't know PHP (of which more later).

I'm really pleased with the move. I think that I've got all of the functionality that I had before and a bit more, and I feel confident that the system will scale well as the content builds over time. The only major thing WP lacks at the moment is the ability to run multiple blogs from one installation (though you can install it multiple times in different directories and share one mySQL database). I wouldn't be surprised if this feature gets added at some point.

Over the next few days, I'll provide a bit more detail of how I set the WP blog up, for anyone who is interested.