January 1, 0001

— type: post layout: post meta: {} title: Some problems with assuming that all features can be added with plug-ins tags: - Gripes - N published: true status: publish —

Plug-ins are great, they allow feature introduction into software that the original authors didn’t dream of at the time. This commonly approached solution to preventing feature creep in the core of the product has some flaws though. When the orginal authors of the software don’t know what sorts of functionality people will want introduce they inherently have no way of knowing what hooks they need to provide plugin authors. They can’t design what they don’t know - it’s just impossible. There is somewhat of a solution though, create hooks so they plug-in authors can do anything they like! Of course, this is bad as well…

I’m desperately trying to use Wordpress at the moment for blog and page management as I try and convert my existing hand-cranked XHTML web-site to something more manageable. I really want it to work because I like the fact that I can find plugins that do cool things with the content, that I can download new themes, that all the content is in a database and so on. I really want this to work because every time I want to change the look of the existing (albeit sparse) content it’s painfully time consuming.

However, Wordpress has literally had hundreds, perhaps thousands, of plug-ins built for it. And that’s where the wonder of plug-ins starts to tarnish. There are soooo many plug-ins that I have no idea where to find the good ones to fix the problems that I’m currently experiencing. In many cases someone has started a plug-in, someone else has added something cool to it and now I don’t know which one to use. And worse, once I’ve installed the plug-in how will I know when a bug has been fixed or new feature has been developed? Unfortunately it seems that the plug-in management for Wordpress is limited to hoping that the person installing the plugin has unzipped the plug-in into the correct location and activated it. I’ve got around 20 plug-ins in my list at the moment, some months and months old and I have no idea if any of them are the latest version and whether or not there are any updates to them.

The biggest problem I’ve got at the moment is that the default editor in Wordpress is not overly useful. It’s falling over in many ways trying to get my existing content into blog posts. Especially around image and page linking. And, it seems like there isn’t any good way for a plug-in developer to hook into the editing phase (I would have thought a rather significant phase) to allow the user be perform useful things. I mean, how many hoops should the user have to jump through to reference another post in the same blog?

Plug-in authors seem to be able to do all sorts of whizzbang things when it comes to churning out cool HTML and JavaScript AJAX type stuff but can’t seem to make it easier for a user to write useful content. The user should be able to click on a button to reference an existing post but it doesn’t seem like this is possible because none of the post linking plug-ins have offered this as a solution.

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