Demise Of WordPress And Its Saving Grace

Ask JeffThis post is part of an ongoing series called Ask Jeff. This is where I’ll take a question someone within the WPTavern or WordPress community gives me and provide my thoughts/answer to. This weeks question was submitted by community member andrew.

Which current WordPress feature do you think is most likely to be a contributing factor in the eventual demise of the platform, and which feature that has not yet arrived do you believe is most likely to be its saving grace?

My goodness. Could these questions get any tougher? Good thing I like challenges. The first question is especially difficult to answer because a feature that becomes a contributing factor to the demise of WordPress should never make it into the core. But you did say which CURRENT feature so while thinking about the question, I determined that the post editor could certainly be a leading contributor to the downfall of WordPress. When three of your top 5 voted ideas for WordPress revolve around the behaviour of the post editor, that alone makes quite a statement. Add to that, these three ideas were submitted over two years ago and so far, doesn’t look like any of them have been addressed. I don’t know if they are being ignored, if there are no resources dedicated to fixing the problems, or if there are no solutions to the problems, but I can easily see a large group of people catching wind of these three ideas and making the case that they should have been addressed a long time ago. I can also see this large group of people using those ideas as the poster child for a ton of negative publicity on not only the software, but the entire development process. How likely is all of this to happen? I’ll say low but it is concerning to see three ideas which over the past two years, the WordPress user base has made their case known that they want these issues addressed but to no avail.

Now, onto your second question. I’m not sure I would call this a feature but a saving grace to WordPress could be to apply the ideas centered around the WordPress back end redesign for 2.7 and extend that line of thinking to all areas of the back end. WordPress 2.7 re-enabled end users to shape the back end so that it worked best for them. However, I believe this could be extended to the point where end users are not limited by having things in a certain location. I think if the back end could be modularized to the point where the core components behave like widgets, this could become the saving grace as it would empower normal end users to really shape the entire administration portion of WordPress so that it best fits their needs. WordPress can’t be all things to all people and I think the more ways that WordPress provides end users the chance to configure things that best suits them on a personal level, the better.

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6 Comments


  1. I think it far more likely that any potential “demise” of WordPress would result not from a failure to implement post-editor features, but rather would result from the underlying attitude that would lead the WP devs to ignore the obvious desire of the WP community to have such features implemented.

    The #1 most popular idea is especially telling.

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  2. @Chip Bennett – Well, I was limited with answering the question based on a current feature and attitude is not a feature. But, you do make a valid point.

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  3. I think you bring up a legitimate weakness of WordPress Jeffro.

    Many of the problems that my co-workers and clients have with WordPress are related to formatting their posts with the visual editor.

    I don’t think that how the editor handles HTML matters nearly as much as how well the WYSIWYG editor works. It is a serious weakness, the vast majority of WordPress users are just ordinary folks, they need it to be as easy as writing an email (and I usually tell them that it is!)

    Of course nobody in the Tavern here needs WordPress to be that user friendly for their own use, but what about your clients? If another CMS came along that had a better visual editor that boosted the usability for novices, I could see it posing a problem for WordPress.

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  4. I haven’t looked at WordPress Ideas for a while. That area really needs a cleanup. Looking at the top 5 shows frustration that was prevalent two years ago, but may not be a good measure of current situations.

    No. 1 and the One you’re focused on is a case in point that has had modest improvements. They might rocket back to the top if deleted or cleaned up, but I don’t know if they would be as popular now.

    If you really dig through the idea “Choose a better WYSIWYG editor” you will find quite a few questionable entries that seem almost like shills for some of the replacement ideas.

    the visual editor is such a complex idea that completely goes contrary to the purpose of HTML. “Let’s edit HTML with… HTML” Anyone taking on that challenge has to be respected or needs medication.

    If you actually go out and work with the javascript HTML editors out there, you will find they all have issues. Some won’t be as easy to modify as TinyMCE, some are easier but lack a community. Others have so-so licensing that require sums of money before they even look at you. You think it sucks reporting a bug for WordPress, try some of those projects.

    I reported one or two bugs to TinyMCE years ago. The response was decent with either a fix or “gohd, idiot, do it this way”. There are only a couple others that I would name worth including in WordPress.

    The real solution would be at the source… Get the W3C to do a form content type HTML and a form textarea type HTML editor. Then we can blame them for the problems.

    Now “Trust me when I edit HTML” from ideas is also complex and part of the over all problem you mentioned. The old double-line to paragraph and single-line to line break mixed with attempts force compliant HTML in WordPress caused that issue.

    Believe it not it’s caused both in the PHP and in javascript. The javascript is wpautop and near impossible to override at this point without writing a customized WordPress TinyMCE plugin.

    To top both of those “ideas”, You sprinkle in some out of date or really badly coded WordPress Plugins to the mix and boom. There are few comments in Extend Ideas for both of those that are obviously support questions related to this type of issue.

    God, I finished a whole cup of coffee. I’ve been personally involved in these issues, so I thought I would offer some historical perspective. Andrew Ozz has really improved things immeasurably. It’s not perfect, but much better than WordPress 2.0 for sure.

    My take on the Demise of WordPress. Just follow the history of ActiveCollab and ProjectPier for a look at a Free GPL’ish project going commercial. That would be my fear, having more sort of commercial things like Akismet and Gravatar creep in.

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  5. @JLeuze – I agree, the Visual editor is still a weakness but as Jess mentions, it’s gotten better over time.

    @Jess Planck – Jess, thank you for the wonderful and insightful reply. I drank a can of Mountain Dew reading it :). You are right about the Ideas section needing a cleanup. In fact it wasn’t too long ago when I wrote an article highlighting the fact that Porn Ideas were being published on the site. I certainly would be interested to see what would happen to the Ideas site if it was cleaned up. Would these visual editor issues creep back to number one or would something else take its spot?

    I know that TinyMCE is actually a project outside of WordPress and the team just takes it and manhandles it to work with WordPress in their specified way. I know their are complexities involved but it’s hard for me to understand sometimes how certain things work in the Visual editor such as, blockquoting something, pressing enter, and you’re still within the blockquote tags. Is Andrew Ozz the only guy who works on the Post Editor in WordPress? Maybe I can try to get him on the show to talk about the complexities of the situation.

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  6. Having an interview of the current architect for the visual editor would be interesting for sure. I’m pretty sure Andrew Ozz has been handling the tinymce integration for at least a year or so. Other than Ryan Boren and Matt M. I don’t know who else has worked on it.

    There are a few third party things like phpmailer in WordPress, but I would point to TinyMCE as the most complicated to integrate since it involves php, javascript, and html. Along with dealing with a third party developer (Moxiecode) it has to make coding interesting.

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