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Coming full circle (or why I’m abandoning my custom CMS and using WordPress again) December 12, 2014

As a software designer, I love to design software. As software developer, I love building software. When I dream of better things, I funnel my ideas into new projects. When I don’t have time for all of my side projects, the projects pile up in a corner and gather dust. And when a side project is an unfinished publishing platform it gets in the way of writing.

I’m intensly interested in writing and publishing on the web. There are just so many possibilities for saying interesting things and making the presentation of those things more useful. I’ve dedicated a chunk of my consulting time to making beautiful interactive sites for non-profits, and I use a slice of my spare time for maintaining a number of my own sites (and those of friends and family). I believe that what we’re seeing on the web today is a shadow of what we will publish in the future, and it excites me.

My love for writing and publishing led me to building my own minimalist tool. Chronicle.md is a Markdown app written in PHP. It works as well as a first version needs to work, but it isn’t productive enough yet to invite me to write daily or weekly. It requires twiddling and poking to get posts out, and it doesn’t support any of the common publishing APIs. And as it’s not at the top of the pile of awe inspiring ideas, it’s not going to get those features any time soon.

And when I weigh the importance of building a better tool with my need to write, writing wins.

So I’m back to WordPress. It’s a reasonable tool, with a vast, stable API, with hundreds of tools and plugins to make it sing. And as I’ve built hundreds of custom themes for it, I can spend some of my fun development time making WordPress better.

The straw that broke the developer’s ego

The tipping point this time around was the simple lack of writing apps that supported my custom tool (hint: this number was 0). As I have been itching to try Desk.pm (a writing tool that supports CMS’s like WordPress), and as I have been publishing sporatically, it was time for a change.

Now I can dream of ways to make my writing flow better, instead of building everything at once. This fits the character of side projects better, as I can take bite sized problems, related to my writing needs (or my client’s needs), and solve them really well. It’s all about focus. 

If I do decide to build a CMS in the future, I will make it my main gig, instead of trying to fit it inbetween the other stuff. Letting side projects interfere with your flow is a sure sign that the balance is wrong.

In the interim, when I get the itch to invent a new CMS, I will aim my powers at trinkets, plugins, and themes for WordPress (and other CMS’s).