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I’m usually understanding when it comes to software and it’s limitations partially because I know how hard it can be to develop. Now, when you have a project as large and distributed as WordPress there’s no way you can excuse releasing a sloppy, buggy product rushed from alpha to beta to final in the space of a few weeks. It just doesn’t happen, though, with Wordpress 2.0, they did exactly that. It seems the dev team is more concerned with adding fancy draggable windows and AJAX-powered fade-outs and color shifting boxes than anything their users could really use. I know people say this should be so easy that grandma Betsy should be able to do it, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of usability for intelligent, experienced users.
One of the more minor annoyances was the installation. Installing is as easy and straight forward as ever, but upgrading is more complicated than it should be. For one there shouldn’t be any reason why the files can’t be made to just overwrite an old installation without destroying it and if that’s too much work a simple upgrade script could come with it. Instead of hitting install.php the user could use upgrade.php to backup necessary file, copy the new files from the extraction directory to their new place and upgrade the database all in one step. Throw all the AJAX animations in there that you want, the newbs would get a kick out of it while everyone else would just be happy to not have to trudge through 13 steps.
Beyond that the new backend is two steps shy of horrible (though I’m sure the AJAX animations might distract some people from this). The worst part by far being the “Rich Editor”. This monstrosity is an attempt at a WYSIWYG editor that works half-assed at best, if you can get it to work properly at all. If it’s not stringing together an entire paragraph into one giant link, it’s choking on images embedded into posts or constantly rewriting your attempts at formatting while spewing out dozens of empty tags of it’s own. One post I tried to get published ended up having 27 <strong> tags in it because I tried to have a few bold words (it seemingly re-adding the tags every time a sentence was edited and the enter key pressed). Needless to say the first step was getting that disabled which was no easy task. A deceptively titled setting is under ‘Options’, but the actual setting in you need is kept in the user’s profile. Unchecking the option to have WP2 rewrite your xhtml simply had no effect and my pages continued to fail validation.
Another point of contention is the “cache”, or rather, complete lack there of. It simply doesn’t work. It’s intended to do exactly what it’s name implies; cache popular pages and serve them up in a more static manner in order to avoid overloading the database. After upgrading to WordPress 2.0 I realized my database was getting pounded by the relatively little traffic I get. WordPress 1.5.2 averaged around 14 database queries per page (still about 5x more than it should need) whereas that figure more than doubled to 37 queries with WP2. The guts of 2.0 are so inefficient with so many dirty hacks and programmer worth his salt would be brought to tears to look at it.
Basically all I can say is DO NOT UPGRADE IF YOU CAN HELP IT. There aren’t any security fixes involved in the upgrade and any references to speed improvements are purely cosmetic at the expense of often fragile database servers. If you do insist on upgrading it should go fine if you follow the instructions to the letter. Second the WYSIWYG editor should be turned off. It’s a nice option, but a horrible default. You’re far better off handling your ‘raw format’ entries. WordPress has the potential to stay a great product, it just took a detour from the path with 2.0.x. I recommend everyone wait for 2.1 and a few positive reviews.