I’m not sure if anyone noticed this, but lithostech.com is using a drastically different theme. It’s just a canned theme like the old one because I’m not a designer and also can’t afford one. That’s not the only difference though. I’ve also switched from Drupal to Wordpress. Mainly, I made the switch because we’re considering moving to Wordpress from Movable Type at work and I wanted to get a feel for how it works.

Drupal vs Wordpress

Drupal is a much more abstract system, useful for a million things, whereas Wordpress is decidedly a blogging platform. Drupal provides a lot more functionality out of the box like caching, css and javascript aggregation/minification, and extensible taxonomy come to mind. Wordpress offers more simplicity and still covers most of my use cases via pretty decent plugins. The migration itself was easy enough and I based it on some scripts I found at socialcmsbuzz. All the old URLs should still work thanks to a set of handwritten redirects in nginx.

The Drupal community really had something great back in the days of 4.x. Drupal was on track to change the world but fell flat on its face when it crapped out 5.x and 6.x too fast. Then turned right back around and kept 7.x in development for years. The poor community has been balkanized across at least 3 major versions of Drupal for a long time and that shows no signs of stopping. Instead of focusing resources on a common platform and building something truly excellent, Drupal created a confusing, sometimes painful development environment and became its toughest critique rather than facing it: “Jack of all trades, master of none”

Movable Type vs Wordpress

One of my favorite things about wordpress is how easy it is to install and upgrade plugins, themes and even wordpress itself. If your web server has the rights to do it (which might be a huge security flaw depending on whom you ask), it’s as easy as clicking a button. One of my least favorite thing about Wordpress has to be what it does to support multiple blogs at the database level. So far its only found in Wordpress μ in the wild, but it will be in Wordpress 3.0 (MultiSite). Wordpress creates whole sets of tables for each new blog no matter how small. I’ve heard all the arguments and done my reading, but I remain skeptical. Database normalization is one area where Movable Type is the clear winner. Here’s the bottom line: If you don’t want to use a relational database, then don’t. There’s all kinds of good stuff going on in the whole NOSQL movement. Maybe Wordpress devs are just waiting for the technology to be more pervasive. I suppose using MySQL in this way is a decent stopgap.

One big advantage Wordpress has over Movable Type is templates are on the filesystem, like regular templates. This may just be a personal preference, but I think whole templates should never be in the database. I hate that about Movable Type. Other simple things like paginated pages are built-in to wordpress so I don’t have to spend hours messing with templates to make it work.

Other than that, I’m really impressed with Wordpress, especially the community. I’ve already submitted patches and talked to core developers on IRC and they’ve all been really friendly and helpful (the total opposite of my experience with the Movable Type community sorry to say). I found free easy-to-configure plugins for all manner of things including S3 integration, Twitter and Facebook integration (including posting comments back to Twitter and Facebook). I’ve wanted to do this stuff for a long time with Movable Type and found it impossible with freely available plugins. Movable Type seems to be stuck in the days where making things work the way you wanted involved a bunch of silly hacks. Movable Type’s best plugin site is aptly named mt-hacks.com.

Why Wordpress?

I’m under no delusion. Wordpress is not the second coming and its really not the most beautiful code I’ve ever seen. What it does is work and it works well. It’s also fun and has an active community of people aiming at a common target. It takes care of a lot of the boring stuff like maintaining plugins and allows me to do the fun stuff where I put it all together and build cool web sites.