Stop Blaming The WordPress Team »  

Jeff Chandler sparked a great discussion yesterday about WordPress plugins with his posts, “Stop Blaming The WordPress Team” on the Weblog Tools Collection blog. His conclusion summed up the crux of the issue really well:

My opinion is that, the WordPress team can not and probably will not take it upon themselves to insure that all major plugins work correctly with current/future versions of WordPress. So the next time you upgrade WordPress and realize your favorite plugin is broke, don’t blame the WordPress team, blame the source.

I am not a programer, but I have been heavily influenced by a lot of open source people in my life in technology. May of my mentors and friends have been very involved in open source projects. The benefits of open source have been pounded into my head since I was a lowly volunteer tech in my college dorm. Now that I work for a software company, and have seen a lot of good and bad implementations of Open Source over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is a time and place for both closed and open source software.

What has always bugged me about open source projects is the propensity that the users have to think that the project belongs to them, not the project team that designed the software. Mind you, there is a lot to be said about listening to the users of your program to make sure you are meeting their needs, but in may cases users begin to feel that they own or have the right to demand that certain things be changed in a program. This goes double for Open Source projects who have third party plugin contributors. Enter WordPress.

No offense, but most people think that their opinion is all that matters. When it comes to wordpress, there are so many things people use WordPress for that it was never intended to do. Weather it’s a content management system, a knowledge base, a web-zine, or a photo blog, people have taken the wonderful core or WordPress and run with it. That is the heart of Open Source, someone else gives you a jump off point, you take that idea, modify it for your purposes, and then make it clear that you modified their concept to create your own result instead of claiming full credit for the program. Plugin Authors sometimes forget that they are a third party to the WordPress platform, not contributors to the WordPress core it’s self. WordPress would not be nearly as cool without all the plugins that exist for it, but at the same time the Plugins are not the WordPress program.

Sometimes I read the different posts and blogs where people will rail against the WordPress team about some thing that was changed that effected their plugin functionality. Granted, I maintain a wordpress install at my company that we use internally, and it relies heavily on some security plugins in order to make it conform to our company’s security policies. But I know that these features are not part of the WordPress core. I know that by using them, I need to take up any problems with the person or persons who wrote the code for that plugin. The very last thing I have a right to do, is complain to the WordPress team that the direction they took the WordPress platform ( a direction meant to be for the benefit of community), broke my plugin that is used by a small segment of the community.

Third party providers are just that, third party. The business world is full of horror stories about people who purchased a product that was based on some other product (something like ACT or Outlook), and that product was crippled when the main platform it was built on changed the way it worked. When ACT when from flat file to relational Database, a lot of business people were at a loss for what to do when their third party providers just folded. When Windows went from 3.11 to 95, a lot of people were in chaos because their driver did not work. And when Apple upgraded from OS 9 to OS X, there was a world of hurt for anyone who’s business was based on Adobe Products (took adobe almost 2 whole years to get their programs into OS X). Technology is only as good as the technology it is built on.

So, to those WordPress plugin authors out there who feel that they have been wronged or abused, that’s the tech world. If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen. If you want to be third party provider, which is what a plugin is, then be prepared for the frustration that will ensue. If you want to rely on a third party plugin, then be prepared to not update your platform until that provider can update their code to work with the new version. Just because the software is free, does not make it an acceptation to any of these rules called “Reality.”


~ by trinity777 on August 25, 2008.

3 Responses to “Stop Blaming The WordPress Team »  ”

  1. I think this should be required reading for everyone from major corporate I.T. department managers to individuals — really to anyone considering Open Source software. Major/big Open Source projects use MODs, plug-ins, etc. to allow the project team to concentrate on the core software product, without worrying about all the extra functionality provided by these third party add-ins. Most major/big proprietary software products take the opposite approach, providing the additional functionality and support from the same software company that provides the core product.

    That difference generally makes Open Source software more expensive for the individual or corporation (i.e. – user) to manage than its proprietary competition. Not just because it takes more time, but more expertise, as well.

    In other words, a Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) calculation needs to be made to accurately determine the true cost savings of Open Source, over the long term. It can also mean staffing up, expertise-wise, for corporations.

    Like so many other things, you cannot just consider Open Source savings whatever you would have paid for proprietary software. The extra work goes on the negative side. But the long term savings on new versions of proprietary software, as well as annual maintenance fees, goes on the positive side.

    • Total Cost of Ownership is something I hope a lot more companies are looking at right now. Given how bad the economy is, making sure that every dollar is spent well important. Quick fixes with OpenSource applications is not a bad thing. However, it’s the long term cost that may come back to bite you. This is not exclusive to OpenSource, as any Microsoft, Apple, IBM, customer has experienced the horror of having to upgrade or change something unexpectedly due to some change that has to be made. But I think that so many IT managers and Executives forget that OpenSource hidden costs can sometimes be harder to unearth than closed source solutions.

  2. Simply want to say your article is as astonishing. The clearness in your post is just excellent and i can assume you are an expert on this subject. Fine with your permission allow me to grab your feed to keep updated with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please keep up the rewarding work.

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