The Vagaries of Self-Publishing

In the past week or so, I’ve been playing with three different publishing systems: Movable Type, Textpattern and WordPress.

My heart has grown fond of Movable Type. I’ll probably keep it for Blurbomat, unless one of the others wins me away. However, the side projects have requirements that will probably swing us away from Movable Type. I respect the decision of Six Apart to charge for their products and thank them profusely for the wonderful work they’ve done to this point. To be frank, I could probably do this site using Typepad. I don’t want to, but I could and it wouldn’t hurt a damn thing.

For one of my side projects, grid magazine, it’s less of an ongoing, living site than an archive of a magic time when small woodland creatures woke me up in the morning and reminded me that I needed to make more money. It also needed to change hosts (costs of hosting have dropped substantially and features/storage space have risen in the two years since we ported to Movable Type).

So for the new grid, I installed Textpattern. Wickedly fast, elegant and amazing, especially considering it’s coming from one person. Unbelievable. Why someone isn’t paying Dean Allen to write CMS software for them is a mystery. I hope that he finds a great deal of deserved success with this project. The disqualification of Textpattern for use on grid is that it does not, as a default configuration, support date stamps as sortable data. That’s the only real way to show the archive for us; publish dates.

We then installed WordPress 1.02 twice and after importing the old entries and having a myriad of issues, installed 1.2. It’s a big improvement over 1.02 and after not trying to bend the thing so far, I got the site up. It’s not really navigable as I have to now figure out PHP and how to do some logic so that I can show articles by month and also include a cover gallery and static pages.

During the hair-pulling, I left a rather large comment on the WordPress forum about migrating from Movable Type to WordPress. The gist: I shouldn’t, as a user, have to work to the developers brain, psychically understanding their logic or assumptions. The software should work to my strengths and hide my weaknesses. I felt it important to share this with the WordPress community, because a lot of the app seems to be focused on PHP developers and not the end users, who, like me, code enough to be dangerous, but prefer to design and write.

And I also prefer to squeeze my baby girl and make her laugh, which is infinitely more rewarding than code wrangling.

Finally, why should free software suck? If my long-winded opinion can be heard and talk about a way of thinking that perhaps the developers considered, but discarded or didn’t consider at all, then wouldn’t that help? I hope so. Because WordPress is pretty damn cool.

But not as cool as my wife.