I’m Thankful For WordPress

There’s a lot of things I’m thankful for: my family, my dog, a freelancer’s freedom, Christ. But as it pertains to my livelihood I’m particularly thankful for WordPress.

Not only was WordPress my kick-start into standards-based web design, but it has since served as my primary CMS of choice. I don’t need to go into features that make WordPress great. They are and if you don’t believe me I can prove it to you elsewhere.

The WordPress feature-set is nice, but I’m most thankful for everything surrounding WordPress. Community: IRC, forums, thousands of WP-centered blogs with great info, WordCamps, passion.

I’d like to touch on that last note: passion. I’ve seen some passionate people around the WordPress-o-sphere for a while, but I’ve recently just really noticed it. I’ve always felt passionate about WordPress, but of course the fire grows.

Any sort of product, service, company, etc. with a following there will have turmoil at some point. WordPress licensing debates have gone on forever, but within the past year they’ve really blown up. The same sort of fiery issues come up every once in a while (i.e. commercial plugins, duplicating premium themes, wp.org progress, MU, etc.). Those on both sides of an issue dig their trenches and seemingly burrow deeper and deeper as the argument continues.

Of course fighting for your stance tooth and nail isn’t anything new. But what amazes me is that WordPress can cause it. For starters, WordPress is six years old. In part, its infancy is probably a cause of some of the issues. Nevertheless, it hasn’t be around long and already there are enough users divided amongst themselves. It’s not a good thing, but it is cool to see so many people making their cases because they care.

No one would waste their time arguing about WordPress if they didn’t care — almost no one, that is. Sure, there’s some people that argue because they just like to disagree with people. Others do so selfishly and care not what is best for WordPress but for themselves. For the most part, though, people want to see WordPress succeed (beyond what it’s incredibly achieved so far).

So we argue debate because we care.

Sometimes we just need a reminder of what we’re thankful for. Keep that in mind if you’re amongst those of us who spend time (too much?) trying to figure out where WordPress is, where it should go and how to get there.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Great Photography, If I Must Say So Myself

Patrick DalyLast week I met up with an awesome photographer. I wanted some professional head shots — something I hadn’t been able to achieve with a web cam or a camera timer.

Jared Hernandez has been a friend of mine for a while and I’ve been watching him improve his photography for years now and it’s pretty incredible how great he is now. I mean, just look at this picture — I don’t really look that good. Well, maybe I do 😉

Anyway, posing for pictures isn’t that fun, but Jared did a great job and I wanted to share them with you.

WordPress for Project Management

This is a call to all those interested in using WordPress as a project management tool. I’m certainly not alone in desiring similar functionality that existing project management tools offer, namely Basecamp.

There’s been some attempts that are full on plugins, but they don’t quite fit the bill, and more importantly they’re out of date and mostly unsupported.

Before I tell you my plans, let’s make the case for WordPress Project Management.

Why Would You Want to Use WordPress for Project Management?

1. Because you can
This is usually a terrible reason for doing something, but WordPress is an extensible platform that’s obviously proven it’s worth so why not add to it some really great new functionality? WordPress developers have no doubt that it can be done, but it hasn’t been thoroughly tackled yet.

2. Cost
Basecamp and other PM solutions out there are reasonably priced, but we’ve been spoiled with open-source software, so we need our “free” fix. The cost does start to get steep when you’re managing lots of projects though.

3. De-fragmentation
If I could centralize all of the web-related things I do then I’d be much happier. I’d prefer that my project management and in-development sites be more closely tied together so that my clients can more easily stay in tune.

4. Control
We “WP self-hosters” love control. I’d prefer to control my brand, my data, features…you name it.

What Does Project Management Really Include?

  • User accounts
  • Multiple projects
  • To-do lists
  • Collaboration

At its core PM generally offers those. Let’s take a look at how WordPress can handle those. We’ll also introduce WordPress MU, since it has quite a bit to offer in our case.

  • User accounts –> Done.
  • Multiple projects –> Done. You can use each child blog as a project.
  • To-do lists –> I think 2.9’s introduction of custom post types could find a use here. There still needs to be some customization.
  • Collaboration –> Done. Posts and comments.

What Else Do We Need?

So if you wanted to use WP for PM today you could do it, but it’s not ideal.

I think WP should handle PM in the front-end for the most part. This way we can control the user-interface more easily, and only provide the user’s with what is necessary. This means we need a theme.

A Theme

Really you could use any theme you wanted and using posts and comments you’d have a fairly organized setup. Of course, they wouldn’t be ideal. A step in the right direction is the P2 theme. Most importantly it allows you to post directly from the front-end. Secondly, it presents posts and comments in a more digestible fashion than the traditional blog post UI.

Most people love the Basecamp interface, so we should really look to it for inspiration. In fact, it’s so nice that I decided to clone it.

I’ve created a new theme called Basechamp. Before you freak out, I know it’s a complete rip-off. I’ve intentionally just copied it while I experiment with the PM idea. It won’t be released to the public until its got its own skin. Also know that it’s a very incomplete piece of work.

So there’s a ray of hope that achieving a project manager can mostly be achieved with a simple theme.

What’s Lacking

What this theme doesn’t yet account for is the administrator. If you’re using WPMU to set this up you can assign a theme to all of the child blogs (each its own separate project). If you’re the admin though you may want to see an overview of all projects, so we’d need to add a template that called data from all projects.

What if someone other than the administrator is assigned to multiple projects, they need an overview page as well. I need to figure out how to best implement this.

All project updates need some sort of email subscription management (subscribe to new posts and comments, daily/weekly summaries, choose to notify certain users of the new post or comment).

To-list lists and milestones need an extensive calendar system.

So, My Plans?

As you can tell, I’ve got something in the works that I plan to release at some point. I’ve already got some support behind this, but I’m interested to know who else may be interested in using this and who might want to help finish it up. Also, the theme will be a child theme for Hybrid and Justin Tadlock has already shown some interest in the project.

In the meantime, we’ll call this Project Basechamp. Give your ideas for a new name when it’s launched.

What am I looking for?

  • A new design for the theme that takes inspiration from Basecamp
  • To-do list implementation
  • Calendar support for to-do lists and milestones
  • Robust email functionality
  • General help and ideas

How to get involved

Leave your comments. Also, join the forum. Serious developers will get access to the code.

Share your Basechamp feature ideas.