If you ask the average PHP developer what they think about WordPress, you may be disappointed with their answer. Their answer may make you think that WordPress is the bastard child of PHP, totally unloved and unwelcome in the PHP community. They’ll cite code quality, community, even personalities in their argument. I’ve even heard stories of a WordPress developer asking a prominent member of the PHP community about using their tool to improve WordPress. The response? “WordPress needs a rewrite.”
And I should know; I’ve been quite vocal in my frustration with the fact that WordPress still tells people it’s okay to use old versions of PHP. And yet, despite WordPress’ shortcomings, it has definite advantages that the PHP community needs to recognize and embrace.
Every person who has a job as a developer has that job for one reason: to solve business problems. And WordPress solves business problems in spades.
How much so? WordPress powers 23% of the web by itself. Think about that for a minute. Almost a quarter of websites on the internet are powered by WordPress. Top news sites like The Washington Post and Bloomberg Politics (released today) receive their strength from WordPress. These aren’t small sites that only a few people read; they’re major, multi-national news organizations that have unique needs, challenges of scale, and the need to get information out fast and efficiently.
When we as a PHP community eschew WordPress, we’re really hurting ourselves. Sure, it’s easy to criticize code quality, but it’s hard to remember that WordPress was released before PHP had any true code standards at all. It’s the quintessential legacy application, warts and all. Every PHP developer has written or worked on an app just like it.
I’ve made comments before about WordPress, and I was wrong for doing so. I am sorry. As a community, we are wrong for not embracing the WordPress community and recognizing that they are an integral part of the PHP world. WordPress doesn’t have to be perfect to be part of PHP. We don’t have to love everything about them to embrace them. But we do have to embrace them, because they are important, and they are a part of our community.
Hat tip to Jenny Wong, whose great slide deck on Integrating Communities helped change my view. Check it out here.
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