A slightly overweight 47-year-old walks up and says, “I plan to become the next Olympic medalist for track. What do you think?” I say, “Well, I like where you’re headed, anyways.”
In fairness, that guy would probably never make it to the Olympics. WordPress features many app framework and platform hallmarks, including core APIs and methods that automate and simplify otherwise complex operations like user authentication and remote data interaction. WordPress succeeds spectacularly largely because it emphasizes the publisher experience atop a capable, approachable, and open platform. Business-minded decision makers selecting a publishing system aren’t terribly interested in nuanced argument about PHP’s suitability to object-oriented software engineering.
So when the conversation is about “the best platform for content delivery and management”, there’s a compelling, evidence-based argument for WordPress. If the conversation is about “the best platform to engineer apps on top of”, it’s unclear that objective evaluation – of this admittedly murky and broad criteria – leads to “WordPress”, largely because this is a debate about the comparative merit of platform architecture. In a debate about architecture and engineering prowess, the freshest technologies – free from legacy weight and optimized for the latest real world use cases – are bound to excel. Our vision for auto-updates (Chrome-like updates that happen in the background without intervention) – which can succeed only with virtually guaranteed backwards compatibility – conflicts with a vision of a competitive, fresh software platform.
Some tangential, important context: I understand the temptation of a loyal, often insular community to think of every possible project as a nail when they only carry a hammer (Tom McFarlin effectively articulates the same point). There’s a cautionary joke told by doctors: take a difficult to diagnose patient to a neurologist, and they’ll receive a neurological diagnosis; take that patient to an oncologist, and they’ll find cancer. Engineers apply their personal tool belt to engineering problems. Salesmen push the product they have on the shelf.
…he’ll talk through the comparative merit of 3 or 4 different platforms, some of which he doesn’t support. I want to be that guy, not the “WordPress, f–k yea” guy.
Then there’s the fanboy thing. There’s nothing wrong with cheering for a team, until right and wrong is defined by the team. With my current fortunes tied to WordPress, a “WordPress good, platform X, bad” frame of mind is tempting – and dangerous. I don’t want to be that guy cheering for MovableType in 2008 or Adobe Flash in 2011. I’ve admired my friend and fellow web strategist John Eckman for years largely because you can describe your functional web platform requirements, and he’ll talk through the comparative merit of 3 or 4 different platforms, some of which he doesn’t support. I want to be that guy, not the “WordPress, f–k yea” guy.