Not a whole lot of blogging going on lately — various kinds of work have occupied my time and attention. Mainly, I'm neck deep in the slow and difficult process of building a complete replacement for Movable Type (in a fit of tongue-in-cheek, I called it "MeTal"). I am not the best programmer in the world, but I am a bloody stubborn one, and I absolutely refuse to let go of a problem once I latch my teeth around its ankle.
Maybe this is more about proving myself a worth adversary to this problem than it is about actually solving my issues with MT (and sparing myself a conversion to WP). A little introspection is always worth it, especially when it reveals your motives for doing something are multifaceted, with some of those facets reflecting back parts of yourself you weren't previously aware of. Still, I suspect this is the good kind of stubborn, the kind that allows me to emerge all the more fearless of big challenges because I've learned how to slice them into many little ones.
Anyway, I know some of you are asking: what's wrong with WordPress? The succinct answer is this:
Static HTML is the most easily optimized content there is. You can't ever go wrong serving static files; you can cache them effectively; they're a known and thoroughly understood quantity.
WordPress has no concept of building static HTML; all of its behaviors are dynamic.
The various caching plugins that exist to make WordPress render static content have too many side effects and unexpected interactions with other behaviors within WordPress for them to be usable.
The amount of customization I've made to MT would not port well to WP without extensive work.
That's the very short version. The long version would be a diary of my various experiments with WordPress, some of which were encouraging and most of which were dismal letdowns. In the end, I decided I wasn't comfortable working with either WordPress or PHP, and elected instead to start anew in a language I was already comfortable with — but to take the things about WP and MT that I did like, and make them part of the experience.
Will you, dear reader, be able to use this stuff once I'm done with it? I sure hope so — my plan was to build something that I myself wouldn't feel irritated at having to deploy. Plus, I have a broad enough gamut of content (this blog, Ganriki.org, my old webcomic, a few other things) to serve as a nice testbed — and I have at least one victim fellow beta-tester willing to throw his hat in the ring as well.
Never once during this experience did I say to myself, "I'm going to make my life more difficult by taking on a project of immense breadth and difficulty." Rather, it was, "I'm going to make my life easier by figuring out how to solve the various problems I'm afflicted with in Web publishing in a way that I'm comfortable with, and make that solution useful to others." Was I kidding myself? Given that I'm already using Mtl (as I abbreviate it) to compose and organize these very posts, if not yet publish them, I might be further along than I think.