Ah, Wordpress, we meet again

For all my bitching about Wordpress as my personal blogging platform, I don’t think I ever actually ended up using it. I went from Grey Matter to Octopress to Ghost to a pure static site, and I thought I’d stay that way. I thought we were done with change.

And yet, here we are. On Wordpress.

How the hell did we get here?

I stayed away from Wordpress because I use Wordpress at work. I know its flaws and its grossness. I know the evil dark php heart lurking within. And I know how complex it is—Wordpress is more or less the Microsoft Word of blogging platforms. Odds are you’re never going to use a tenth of what Microsoft Word has to offer—odds are you just need to write a report or a letter or something. It always felt like overkill.

Other blogging platforms were so neat and cool. Octopress was all shiny and Ruby and fast and rewardingly complex—but ultimately it was just a theme and some automation on top of Jekyll, and it didn’t do what I really wanted.

Ghost, I thought, would be the coolest thing—it was made of node.js and therefore self-hosting it automatically carried a lot of geek cred, but Ghost never quite became what I wanted. There were always a couple of things that it just didn’t quite do. Variable length excerpts with formatting was a huge one. Non-hacky image layout was another. And then, when some neat new features I was interested in began to finally appear, the theme I was using stopped working with the new versions of Ghost that had the features I wanted.

And through it all, Wordpress was like, “Hey, I can do all this stuff already.”

Then along came the block editor—the editor formerly known as Gutenberg—and I knew it was time.

It’s clean. It’s fast. I dig how blocks work. Creating reusable blocks is fast and easy. The text entry experience is very WSYWIG and adding images and pullquotes and other cool stuff is super easy.

The other thing that brought me back to Wordpress was Generatepress, a lightweight theme that can be customized in more or less infinite ways. A reader over on Space City Weather suggested it, and I had such a positive experience adapting it for use over there that I decided to put it on my personal blog. It made recreating my old comfortable Ghost theme super-easy.

Wordpress gets a bad rap—it gets called out (incorrectly) for being super insecure, or slow, or overly complicated. It can be all of those things—if you run wild with plugins, and if your hosting situation is sub-par, or if you over-complicate things. But Wordpress is not inherently insecure (no more than any other application, anyway), or inherently slow, or inherently complicated.

In fact, after a couple of decades of blogging on other platforms, it feels just right.