Comparing Blogging Software

In my spare time lately, I’ve been comparing Pivot (the blogging software which runs this site) with WordPress (a different system with a much wider userbase). I ended up writing a few hundred lines of code, digging through arcane implementation hooks, and more– but I’ve learned a lot, and I’m contributing back to the development community.
WordPress, unlike Pivot, stores posts in a database. This means it can access them faster, and also perform all sorts of dynamic changes to them in a more transparent way, which I dig. So the thought of switching over has been on my mind.

However, two things have been stopping me:
(1) I love the current theme and appearance of , and I wasn’t sure WordPress could even look like that
(2) I wanted to look before I lept, and not make a rash decision

To that end, I installed WordPress in a subdirectory on the site ( to be exact) and started digging into it’s code to see if it could look like Pivot. This necessitated teaching myself PHP, finding and modifying scripts, writing a few new plugins based on the WordPress API, and updating and revising a (thankfully existant) script which copies a Pivot batafile into a WordPress database.

As you can see, the real site and the mock site look and act very similarly. This answered point (1), above, andgave me a fair and equal basis for evaluating (2). After using both, I made some observations which I crossposted to the Pivot forums and the WordPress forums. I’ve now heard back from one of the authors of Pivot, saying that they appeciate my work and are carefully evaluating what I’ve said for future release work. Pretty cool! On the WordPress side, someone likes my theme so much that they requested a copy to use for their own site (which I e-mailed off to them). Yay!

So, my questions are mostly answered. What does this mean? Well, I’m still playing and learning, but it’s possible that this blog will switch to a WordPress backend. Ideally, you won’t even notice. Unless you write a post. Then, you’d see a much cleaner and more powerful interface that’s going on behind the scenes. And you’d have to reset your password. 😉

For posterity’s sake, I’ve attached my “mini-review” here:

My observations?
In WordPess’s Favor

  • WordPress renders faster– Pivot seems to hang a little bit on processing the PHP command of my “random image block”, which WP doesn’t.
  • WordPress (despite the time I spent learning it) has a much more open API and is more highly customizable, with a larger base of people hacking away, building new widgets, themes, and plugins.
  • I like the ability to moderate posts and comments, and the interface to do so, in WP, something I wish pivot would adopt.
  • The MySQL backend lets me run queries and dynamically sort information a lot quicker and more intuitively. I really wish “Pivot — MySQL version” would become a reality.

Pivot is winning, though.
In Pivot’s Favor

  • Pivot has better comment composition (textile, etc).
  • Pivot handles media MUCH better. While writing a Pivot post, I can seemlessly upload an image, generate a thumbnail, and include it in the post. Even with plugins, that’s a difficult task in WordPress. This is something I had never really recognized before, and a good lesson. I commend the pivot team!
  • Pivot has nice little features like “post rating” and great “open in new window” support.

What I wish Pivot would learn from WordPress

  • Configuration Interface Design. Clicking “Next” twice and “Save” once isn’t an intuitive (or sensical) way to change a setting on the first page of Weblog config. WordPress’s admin interface is beautiful, and well laid out. Pivot already has a sidebar of categories and sub-categories in it’s Admin theme– I wish the config options would be broken out and sorted on individual pages.
  • Better dynamic handling. I shouldn’t have to hit “re-build the frontpage” after every change I make to a template.
  • User levels / A Post and Comment Moderation system.
  • Database back-end to enable an API– a great thing I can easily (almost ridiculously easily) do in WordPress is create a link that returns, say, “articles by user:Teisha in year:2004 in category:linkdump”. I don’t even know if this is remotely possible in Pivot (I don’t think it is, and if it is, the API is not well-documented)

What WordPress could learn from Pivot

  • Better default media handling. Even the Gallery2 plugin requires you to manually upload through a different program, find the location, and insert that between tags. Pivot’s ability to browse, upload, generate thumbnails, and place all within the post dialog is a goal that WordPress should set.
  • I guess that’s it.. better media support might tempt me to WordPress.

I’d love feedback from anyone about what you think. Am I on target with these observations? Am I misreading the capabilities of the various programs?

If anyone is especially curious about my process, I’d be happy to post the templates I used to modify WP, the plugins I modified and wrote, and the derivative of the script at MakeYouGoHmm that I used (I modified it to fix a little error and to insert the wordpress “more” template tag between intro and body of imported Pivot entries).

Enjoy! Any comments?

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