What’s that sound? It’s a cannon ball being shot over the bow of Tumblr. The big discussion point over the past two days has revolved around a new feature slated to hit WordPress 3.1 called Post Formats. Otto as well as Mark Jaquith do a great job explaining what these are. To make a long story short, Tumblr has different ways of displaying content depending upon which format is being used. Matt Mullenweg has actually been doing something similar with his own site at Ma.tt which Otto shows screenshots of. While the notion of displaying content differently based on the type of content being published is not new, the way of doing it currently does not lend itself to data portability.
This is why the core developers have decided to settle on a standard set of post formats. A standard set of formats enables users to switch themes without losing the way in which those post formats are displayed. It’s also been decided that there will be no API calls or hooks available to extend or modify the standard set of post types which is a rare thing in WordPress considering there is usually always a way to modify or extend a feature set. I was against the idea of post formats until I figured out that they are different from post templates, which I use for content that is the same but with different values. Instead, I’m getting excited about the ability to be able to post just a link or maybe just a quote from an interesting piece dedicated to WordPress. Post formats will simply make it easier to publish short-form content and display that content differently than regular posts.
Another thing that interests me regarding the inclusion of post formats is that WordPress.com will most likely see this same feature added to the service which would basically empower WordPress.com users to publish posts just like those on Tumblr with the only thing missing being a slick Bookmarklet. If both WordPress.com and WordPress the open-source project both have this feature set, what will this do to disrupt Tumblr? Considering the strength of Tumblr will essentially become a feature of WordPress, what drive will there be to continue using the service? Granted, perhaps the WordPress implementation won’t be as pretty as theirs but still, I’d be somewhat worried if I were Tumblr. This addition to the software could possibly contribute to a sizable chunk of the Tumblr audience migrating to WordPress.com.
On the flip side, both WordPress and Tumblr continue to co-exist and nothing much really changes. What do you think?