A Bit on WordPress

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After receiving an email newsletter today from Mark Condon, photographer and creator of the most excellent site, Shotkit, I wanted to add a little to his post entitled “How to Start a Photography Blog“. Not so much as a commentary on it but more of a bit of additional information to consider when taking the WordPress path as your blogging platform.

WordPress is Great. I have used WordPress for a very long time and, before it, I used Drupal. I am not even sure Drupal is around any longer but WordPress far exceeded the features and performance of it so it won out when I was looking for an “upgrade”. In general WordPress is solid, easy-to-use and is more than sufficient for almost anyone, regardless of the content they are looking to publish.

But…. and this is where the “you get what you pay for” comes in. WordPress is free. Sure you can purchase themes and “pro” add-ons but it is still free. You get a lot for free but that price comes with some drawbacks.

Whomever you choose as web host will already have and maintain the server(s) that WordPress will run on. This means that the version of the OS, the version of PHP and the version of MySQL will be out of your control. You have to trust that the host is going to make the best choices for their customers and most often they do.

Most WordPress installations, themes and add-ons will run on most of the various versions of the core software but what happens when one of these gets upgraded? What happens when the theme/add-on you are using is no longer compatible with host’s newer software? Well, if you are lucky the creator of the theme/add-on will test and provide updates to ensure compatibility. If not, you get what I currently have right now: a hodge-podge of a site that has been downgraded to run a very basic theme. The theme I was using (and heavily modified) now produces endless fatal errors and no longer runs on my host’s system. I have been looking for another theme that I can tolerate but none of them seem to fit the bill and I really do not want to start over with the customized coding.

In short, I like WordPress a lot. Still do and still recommend it but I think I have reached a jumping off point. With both my host and with WordPress. I’m going to put up with my current installation for a bit longer but I am looking at potentially switching to something like Squarespace. They build their code and content management on top of the back end and, like an Apple computer, it just works. No need to worry about an incompatible add-on. If they offer it, it works. Welcome to theWonderful World of the Walled Garden.

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