WP Tavern summarizes the conversation around WordPress losing CMS marketshare for the first time in ages, and what various people have cited as likely causes.

Personally, I’m finding its increasing complexity to be a major frustration.

  • Writing on WordPress has gotten somewhat more complicated.
  • Maintaining a WordPress site has gotten more complicated.
  • Developing for WordPress has gotten more complicated.
  • The resulting page code (including CSS and Javascript) has gotten a lot more complicated. As I’ve noted before, there’s no good reason to require 450K of data to display a 500-word post. Or a single link with a one-sentence comment.

The move towards Gutenberg blocks and full-site editing complicates things on several levels, and feels like an attempt at lock-in as well.

Ironically, I’ve been moving toward Eleventy, which has also been very frustrating…but only in building the layout I want.

On one hand…

  • I have to develop a lot of the components I want from scratch. More than would have thought. Though I suspect there are enough pre-built layouts out there for most people’s use cases.
  • The documentation is sorely lacking. (Eventually I’ll get around to helping with that.)
  • Dynamic features like comments need to be handled by another program.

But on the other…

  • I can fine tune things a lot more easily than fine tuning a WordPress theme.
  • Once I’m done building the layout, adding a new post is almost as easy as it is on WordPress.
  • My actual post content is portable.
  • There’s essentially no attack surface, so if I have a site that’s “done” I can just build it one last time and leave it as-is — and not worry about spam, maintenance or security (beyond general webserver security).
  • I don’t have to send extra JavaScript libraries along with every page, so it can use a tenth of the bandwidth and load faster on slow connections.

With Eleventy, setting up the layout and features has been super complicated…but once it’s set up, it’s smooth, easy to deal with, and does the job well. It’s kind of like running Linux back in the 1990s.

But with WordPress, there’s complexity in every layer.

Sometimes it’s worth it.

Sometimes it’s not.

Two hot takes (so to speak):

Auto-updaters shouldn’t run when the system is really busy.

And installers that check to see the whether the same or newer version is “already installed” should either be really thorough about what they’re checking, or offer to do a repair install anyway.

Overheat!

I’d fired up a game of No Man’s Sky, which even after redoing the thermal paste and adding another case fan still pushes the limits of my system’s cooling, especially if I forget to wait for all the background processes to finish loading on Windows startup. I left a space station, landed on a planet, started mucking around with the structure I had found, and hit a waypoint pole to save again—

And the system shut down.

I turned it back on to get the fans running again and help cool off. Which worked. But when I logged in, I had a bunch of errors with Google Drive. Apparently its auto-update launched during my GPU-intensive game and overheated it enough to reach the shutdown threshold.

Fortunately, I’d just saved my game — or so I thought.

I spent about half an hour trying to fix Google Drive before I decided to just go back to the game for now.

No Man’s Sky picked up seamlessly…at the previous save. Maybe the write cache hadn’t been flushed yet or something. I’m glad I only lost about a minute of gameplay, though… I’ve got several hundred hours on this save file, and I’d hate for it to get lost or corrupted!

Anyway, back to Google Drive. I couldn’t reinstall it because I couldn’t uninstall it, and despite my efforts I couldn’t remove enough traces of it for the installer to be willing to run. You can read the whole reinstalling Drive saga on my troubleshooting site, along with the taskbar that lost its icons halfway through.

I eventually fixed it by copying the installed program files from another system and running the uninstaller manually. That resolved both the taskbar icons and the Drive installer being willing to run.

Then I dragged myself into bed.

Yeah, it was a fun Saturday night. 🙄

Sometimes it takes longer to automate something than it would to just repeat it yourself. Calvin designing a robot to clean his room, for instance. The method of estimating how long it takes to do the thing, how many times you have to do the thing, and then how long it would take to automate doing the thing, is a pretty good guideline.

But there are other factors: Like, can you include it in a checklist? If not, what are the chances that you’ll forget to do the thing? And what happens if you forget? What if you might hand things over to someone else and three people down the line, the fact that you need to do the thing doesn’t get passed along?

Or what if you have a situation like Desmond at the Dharma Initiative numbers station, and they know the step is “required,” but don’t know why? (Not that you’re likely to have quite so severe a failure mode!)

Anyway, today I automated some post-processing on a site that I hardly ever change. Not because it’s a pain to do the post-processing. Not because it takes a long time. But simply because if I don’t build it into the process, the next time I change something a year down the line I’ll probably have forgotten that I need to do the post-processing!

Over the years I’ve written a lot of troubleshooting posts on my blog, describing problems I’ve run into and how I solved them in hopes that other people with the same problems might find it helpful.

I’m starting to collect them on a mini-site that’s not a blog: Hyperborea Tech Tips.

Several things came together to inspire me to reorganize those posts:

  • Tinkering with IndieWeb.
  • Building a Gemini capsule.
  • Opening the developer tools on one of my WordPress-powered blog pages. There’s no reason a 500-word article should need 400KB and a dozen connections!
  • Keeping multiple WordPress blogs up to date with security fixes.
  • Reading about the garden and stream metaphor. (via)

The essence of the garden and stream is that we’ve gotten used to a constant, time-based stream of information, but some things are better handled as an idea-based, organically-growing and cultivated collection. Sometimes you want to post a status update to social media (into the stream), but sometimes you want to update a Wiki page (taking care of the garden).

A lot of stuff isn’t here because it belongs in a stream. It’s here because it became more convenient than copying a template, writing the page, adding links and uploading everything over FTP.

I’d already mirrored some of these troubleshooting posts on my Gemini capsule, so I figured they’d be a good place to start.

My goals with the sub-site:

  • Deeper dive into Eleventy, the static site generator I’d used to archive my Les Misérables commentary.
  • Dig into IndieWeb.
  • Light as possible. One CSS file, images only for content, system fonts, no JavaScript unless I have a specific thing that needs it. (And if I do have to add JavaScript, only include the parts I need, not half a megabyte of some framework or another.)
  • Look somewhat decent (and legible!) on screens from cell phone up to widescreen desktops.
  • Create a reusable template, both for my own projects and for other people.
  • Be at least as useful as the original blog posts, if not more!