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Kevinjohn Gallagher decides to move his business away from WordPress

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I don’t think I’m in a very good position to judge WordPress’ performance in large-scale enterprise situations. My development and client experience isn’t as broad as most, and I spend most of my time on a single (but active) installation of WordPress. So I always find criticisms of WordPress like the one Kevinjohn Gallagher lays out in his post to be particularly interesting reads.

He has comments turned off on his blog, so refer to the discussion on Hacker News and WPTavern, or chat about it below.

8 thoughts on “Kevinjohn Gallagher decides to move his business away from WordPress

  1. I have nightmares about the day this is me. Seriously.

    I agree with everything he has said. WordPress has come a long way, but there’s so much improvement required if it’s ever going to be backed and adopted by big business as a true ‘platform’ in every sense of the word.

    To anyone who says each issue KJG has listed can be fixed with a plugin; this is not the answer! On a default install of WordPress for a client, I install 17 plugins to get the functionality I require. Then I start to install site-specific ones.

    Side note; despite how much I hate IE, I so wish it was better supported by WordPress. I have to explain to my clients why their browsers aren’t good enough and they look at me as if to say “it’s the website that’s not good enough, this browser came with the computer”.

  2. I can understand his frustration with some of these things, like lack of support for Windows and the inability to test. However, many orgs are moving away from support for IE6 and IE7, including Facebook. And, doesn’t support for legacy browsers in the front-end theme depend on the theme developers at his agency? I guess he’s complaining about support in the admin, but there has to be a time where a software company breaks away from supporting legacy products as they fall away. I don’t think any company other than MS would support IE6 today. Yes, we know that it’s out there, but unfortunately these decisions must be made.

    I don’t know a lot about document management, but I do know that the current WordPress media library is sufficient for general use cases. It’s searchable and provides image editing as well as custom styling capability. If I want something more robust, then I can go with a Razune open source product, that has a WordPress integration. A CMS can’t do everything. Drupal depends on plug-ins as well for these sorts of things. Show me a free, open source CMS that has a media management system as complex as Razuna? If there is one, then I haven’t been doing my research.

    The whole issue with user workflow is taken care of by Edit Flow and Assignment Desk. When combined, those tools are incredibly powerful. You are able to fork and modify, but then it’s up to you to take on updating that codebase with those modifications. You can’t expect to modify someone else’s plugin, then take the updates without something breaking, especially if you tweak the plug-ins core files.

    Some of the other issues I can’t speak to, but I think it’s a matter of understanding that we live in an agile, rapid development world today. The era of scheduling software upgrades and training departments on a schedule is kind of, well, over. We’re almost 20-years into publishing with content management systems, as far as I know and we’ve seen how proprietary systems can bloat and take an incredibly long time to implement features users want now. There’s a trade-off.

    Lastly, I’m sorry — single sign-on does not belong in core. There are too many single sign on options with Google, Twitter, Facebook, etc… That is better left to plug-in devs who can quickly react to changes in each companies API much quicker than core devs can get to it. And, they are changing all the time.

    If you can’t work with Simple Facebook Connect, which does just about everything. Or, Simple Twitter Connect…then I don’t know what to tell you.

    What’s funny is that he doesn’t list where he’s going. What CMS is he now going to choose? Or, is everything going to be a trade-off?

    • I’d say IE6 can definitely go, possibly IE7 too. However there’s still too many issues in IE8 (which for XP users, is the latest version of IE they can get).

      • I agree with your points. WP is only a base to build on and it never has made the claim that it is the CMS for every situation.

        As to the updating, I see the frequent updates as a sign that WP is a healthy Open Source Project. I started with WP 2.7 and each update has been a welcome addition to usability. Additions such as the drag and drop photo up loads should make all clients happy.

        Your point that he doesn’t offer up what he sees as a viable alternative to WP is well made. His critic is more like complaining and would have been best addressed to the team working on WP3.4 not the public.

        • Sue – the problem there is … to whom do you address the issue?

          This is not meant to knock WP. The problem exists in any community. Where do you go with ‘big ideas’ like this? If you don’t know someone (like I know a couple people and would email them directly about this), what do you do? Drives me batty in the corp. world, since finding the RIGHT person to say ‘These are the things I need. Why aren’t they in core?’ and have a frank one-on-one about it isn’t easy. It’s just as hard with WP as anything else. A blog post is ‘an’ appropriate thing to do, certainly.

        • Thanks, Sue.

          I guess if he’s got different clients in a variety of verticals, and those clients require complex feature sets that WordPress doesn’t do well or plug-in devs are too inexperienced to execute properly, then there is certainly a case to be made. I certainly do not begrudge him for blogging his frustration. We should be able to speak our minds about what we like or don’t like in the open source world. It’s a democratic process that, to me, has been about transparency and discussion, then settling on the path forward. So, by all mean, put it out there and let it fly.

          But, to say that you are forever going to abandon something, then that something comes around and happily surprises you next year – well, that’s putting yourself in a pickle. What if you run into a new client who absolutely wants WordPress?

          What’s funny is that Drupal doesn’t even ship with TinyMCE and you have to install a module (as far as I’ve heard, so correct me if I’m wrong). Every CMS is going to have its pros and cons.

          When I was building the reesenews.org site at UNC Chapel Hill, we were happily integrated with a MediaTemple CDN using WP Super Cache. I was also working on a Razuna media library integration, which I argue should be absolutely separate from WordPress, because you don’t want your photo editors working in WordPress to manage media. That’s not what WordPress is for on a professional services level.

          The discussion I’ve been having on Twitter with @mikeschinkel centers on his argument that you shouldn’t have two platforms doing something one can do. Sure, you can build that level of service into native WordPress, but look at how big and complex Razuna is already? So, how do you support a digital asset management system when you’re supposed to be focused on so many other things?

          The argument about installing WordPress then setting up a variety of plug-ins to do stuff is difficult for me to comprehend, because you have to do that in every open source CMS. What open source CMS has everything you need, out of the box? I just don’t get it.

          I can see Automattic building out a DAM offering in the same way they offer VideoPress or Intense Debate. That would be something interesting on the professional services level for Automattic to role out, but sometimes you want other companies like Razuna to thrive. I mean, Adobe can’t make every plug-in for Photoshop, right? Apple can’t make every plug-in for Final Cut? And Microsoft can’t make every application that runs on Windows!

          I haven’t yet run into a use case I haven’t been able to handle in WordPress. But, I work with media companies, and most are happy to build on the product and have the flexibility it offers. Also, to say WordPress is not scalable is an outright, blatant falsehood. What is WordPress.com then? Some secret, custom WordPress solutions that nobody else uses but Automattic, and it scales to many millions of concurrent users, but my version can’t? Ha! I don’t think so. Ask the NYTimes.com or any other newsorg about scaling their WordPress sites. Ask any major blog that uses WordPress about scaling for millions of visitors. i don’t get that argument. If WordPress can’t scale, then none of us would be here. At some level, you have to grow your skill set and not rely on just the base to get what you need to get done. I mean, should WordPress come with NGINX? Two totally separate things, right? WordPress can’t do everything, but it can and does do one thing very well, let you publish the content you want to publish, when you need to publish it. If you want Amazon.com, that’s Magento, not WordPress.

          • Some secret, custom WordPress solutions that nobody else uses but Automattic, and it scales to many millions of concurrent users, but my version can’t?

            tangent: I’ve actually had someone say this to me. Not true, but there ya go.

            The biggest thing that bugs me about all this is yet another FUD post that “wordpress sucks for enterprise” with no comments disputing it. they are al elsewhere. So the counter arguments and outright falsehoods never get disputed, and the icky bits stick in people’s memory.

  3. many orgs are moving away from support for IE6 and IE7, including Facebook

    Right, but Facebook is elective. So’s Google.
    If there a security patch for WordPress and I have to install it, but I know then an entire Government department wont be able to use the intranet, then I’m stuck.

    The reality is, like it or not, IE 6/7 usage in my country accounts for almost 20% of all browser traffic. Almost 30% of my country is employed by Banks or Government Bodies, of which only 1 of them has moved off IE6 as their standard install browser, and they moved to IE7.

    Have you ever tried explaining to a FTSE100 company why they should upgrade the browsers of tens of thousands of employees in the next 3 weeks because it’s been decided that IE7 isn’t going to be supported by the intranet platform you only installed 3 days ago?

    “Agile, rapid development world today” is absolutely fine, but when the core team decide to not support IE7 and don’t announce it – thats not agile, thats mental. Hand on my heart, I can happily go to a client about changing a browser in good faith with some realistic notice. Finding out that IE7 isn’t supported anymore when the BETA came out isn’t realistic notice (the decision was then reversed btw, but it’s on the horizon)

    I see the frequent updates as a sign that WP is a healthy Open Source Project.

    We all do, me included, but coupling AdminUI changes with Functionality and Security changes; with no backward compatibility isn’t good.

    Have you seen a disabled person try and use WP3.3? Or a colour-blind person?
    Thats the issue. We’re coupling separate updates together, and releasing them at a pace that anyone who requires training to use the CMS can’t keep up with. Lets not forget, the menu changed twice this year. The menu. The “admin bar” changed twice. If you’re blind you need to be re-trained every time that happens. We can’t just ignore disabled people!!

    Or my other favourite, Beta3, y’know 3 releases after the code freeze, changed jQuery version from 1.6 to 1.7. When one of our plugins broke we didn’t know if it was a jQuery bug, a WP bug, or a bug in out code.

    Fast, small, constant updates – i’m all for. I just want them managed!

    His critic is more like complaining and would have been best addressed to the team working on WP3.4 not the public.

    But Sue, do you truly think that people like me haven’t been doing that? For years?

    But we’re met with this:

    Don’t listen to the Vocal Minority, even when they’re right
    Westi, Automattic Employee, WordPress Core Committer.

    Sad reality. I’m happy to keep doing it, as I love this software. My staff don’t want to.

    to say WordPress is not scalable is an outright, blatant falsehood.

    Technically anything can be made to scale.
    In terms of people and users on a single site, WordPress struggles.
    It’s ethos is around blogging, which is quite singular in fashion. Again, let me be blunt, FTSE100 non-media company. Anyone, any single person who can click “this is spam” link on a comment can also edit ANYTHING on their homepage. Hardcoded without a hook since WP2.0. Enterprise and Governments simply can’t handle that sort of narrow-minded-ness.

    We have a tendency to look at scaling only in terms of tech. It’s processes where WP fails at a certain size.

    Anyway, this was the Promised WPcandy reply, I hope you all have a lovely weekend. I’m in NYC trying to find some food.

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