A look at WordPress

A look at WordPress

By | July 2nd, 2012
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We spoke to Matt Mullenweg, creator of WordPress


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WordPress is increasingly being used as a CMS rather than a blogging platform. Often the missing features are added via plug-ins. Do you intend to add those missing pieces and make WordPress a full fledged CMS?

92% of WordPress developers use it as a CMS, and we’re constantly improving on our built-in features around that functionality. It’s the reason we’ve become the most popular content management system in the world.
However, we disagree philosophically with the “kitchen sink” approach of building everything into the core software package. For certain niche functionality, users will always be better served by the flexibility and possibility for faster iteration that plugins provide.

Could you give us significant examples of WordPress implementations that are far beyond blogs?

http://broadbandmap.gov. There’s detailed description available here.
http://www.ign.com/ is an entertainment website. You can read more on them here.
Similarly, the following prominent websites used WordPress:

What are the best usage scenarios for WordPress? Would you recommend it to host blogs alone, or are applications such as ecommerce also recommended?

How you use WordPress is only limited by your imagination. E-commerce is one area we see growing very quickly, but it’s matched by real estate sites, small and local businesses getting a web presence, social media aggregators – there’s a plugin or theme for almost everything.

What are the kind of services that are offered by Automattic? Tell us about the nature of business, and the kind of users of Automattic’s services.

For new users, we offer a hassle-free version of WordPress at WordPress.com, where you can start a blog in seconds and just focus on your content.
For people who run their own installation of WordPress on a third-party web host, we provide add-on services to make the site safe, secure, fast, and fun. The most important of these is our Jetpack plugin, which today brings easy stats and subscriptions / mailing lists to your site, and we have a suite of premium services including VaultPress, Akismet, VideoPress, and Polldaddy.
You can see everything we do at http://automattic.com/.

Tell us about the history of WordPress. You tweaked an existing framework at the time and that resulted in the birth of WordPress, right? How has it shaped since then? What have been significant trends you have noticed over time?

That is correct, WordPress grew out of the b2 project. In the 8 years since then, the most important development has been the growth of the rich and healthy ecosystem of plugins, themes, and core contributions around WordPress. The collective effort of so many people working together creates amazing products.

What all features provided by HTML5 will you consider integrating into WordPress? If at all. Offline support? Geolocation?

I think any capability afforded by HTML5 to make WordPress more app-like and faster for users is interesting, there’s nothing we wouldn’t consider.

Do you consider integrating any of the more popular plug-ins into WordPress itself?

Sometimes, but it’s always a very deliberate decision given our minimalist philosophy and emphasis on simplicity.

Is WordPress 4 (and other future major releases) something that you have on the drawing board somewhere? Or are you totally focused on WordPress 3 for now.

We’re different than other software projects in that our 0.1 releases are major releases, and 4.0 will just be the next one after 3.9. On deck for 2012 is 3.4, 3.5, and 3.6 and each one will have major new functionality for users and developers.
If you’re interested in seeing a sneak peek of what’s coming, I’d recommend getting involved with the weekly WordPress development chats, everything we plan is completely transparent.

What lies ahead for WordPress? What do you think are some of the flaws of WordPress that will need to be fixed in future versions?

Personally, I’m most interested in working on how we handle media and images in posts, galleries, the WYSIWYG, and the plugin and theme installation and update experience.

Which “competing” blogging / CMS platforms do you find most compelling? Has WordPress taken inspiration from other platforms? If so which ones (platforms / features)?

I think every product in our space, from Blogger to Drupal, influences us when we approach a problem. But it’s always user-driven rather than checklist-driven, meaning that I’m not going to go to Concrete5′s site and see they have a feature and say we have to copy that, but I will listen to a user of both platforms describe what they like best about each, and dig into their usage of something to try and ascertain the underlying need they have and how we can best address it.

What is your recommended set up for high traffic blogs/sites considering load on the database and server? For example, alternate web servers such as nginx, or databases other than MySQL.

Before you try anything fancy, I would just install a caching plugin like WP-SuperCache. That increases performance far beyond 99.9% of sites out there. Trying to change too many things at once (web servers, database tweaks, multiple plugins) makes you just as likely to introduce a new problem, or make maintenance a burden.

Could you tell us the best resources to learn WordPress development? Preferably external to the WordPress community?

Many of the books about WordPress are quite good, we have a list here: http://wordpress.org/about/books/. But you can also just search Amazon for “WordPress” and get dozens of results.

We see some astronomical pricing on WordPress VIP hosting. Do you only look at “VIP” clients or are you also open to professional services for SMEs? What is the USP over Amazon EC2 and a team of in-house WordPress developers? How do you manage to generate a steady stream of revenue?

I actually think VIP hosting is an incredible bargain. Many customers who apply to be in the program save significant money over what it would cost them to build a similar infrastructure themselves. And beyond just hosting, they get access to some of the best WordPress developers in the world to audit the security and performance of their code and site.

Any special plans for the Indian market? Are you looking at it seriously? Do you have significant partners and customers here? Do you plan to set up offices in India?

No, but I’d love to expand our Indian presence. We have one Automattician (what we call an Automattic employee) in India so far, and I’m surprised there aren’t more given the high level of technical talent and passion for Open Source there. Automattic is a completely distributed company and people are ranked by their contributions and merit rather than their location. I can’t think of another internet-scale company that operates in the same way. If you’re reading this and it seems like any opportunity you’d be passionate about, you should apply at http://automattic.com/work-with-us/.

Are there professional courses run by Automattic to train potential resources on WordPress?

Not currently, but it’s something we’re considering launching in 2012.

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Nash David
I’m fascinated by open web technologies, and its endless possibilities. I use Windows for work; want to switch to an Android smartphone, and get an iPad soon. Write to me at editor@devworx.in, or tweet: @nashpd.