Stop Building Sites In Subfolders? I disagree.

Drew McLellan wrote an interesting article on March 9, 2011. Of course a year later, comments are closed (as they should be unless you want to get daily viagra offers) and I couldn’t add my thoughts, so I thought I would explain why I build sites in a subfolder on the live server.

Drew specifically talks about Perch. I’ve never worked with Perch or any CMS other than WordPress, so perhaps his article is spot on. But when developing WordPress sites, I favour developing in a subfolder on the client’s server.

If the client has an existing site, I create a new subfolder, set up a fresh installation of WordPress, including a database and start working there. I’m a big fan of the BackWPup plugin and set that up during development as well, that way there’s a backup of the theme and database if anything goes wrong.

When it’s time to go live, WordPress provides a simple step to give WordPress it’s own directory. No files but two need to be moved to the root directory and WordPress takes care of the urls. So there’s no danger or messing about with links and losing any page relationships.

By working on a temporary server, I’ve learned the hard way that no two servers are the same. Just last week, I proceeded to set up WordPress on a client’s hosting provider only to find out that they are running a lower version of PHP than required. I’m glad I found that out sooner rather than prior to launching. Now the client has time to look into new hosting.

Additionally, you might not believe this, but clients sometimes disappear and never provide copy. Gasp! Shocking I know. This happens to me at least once a year. I set up the site, make sure everything is ready to go, give the keys to the client and then wait until they tell me they are ready to go live and everything goes quiet. By having them on a subfolder on their live server, the ball is in the court and I don’t have to maintain a temporary site on my server.

I build on average 50 WordPress sites a year and this is my workflow. It makes sense when working with WordPress. What are your thoughts?

Is WordPress a Content Management Solution?

I had the privilege of sharing the stage with Cameron Cavers and Dave Zille this weekend at
WordCamp Vancouver, and discussed the merits of using WordPress as a CMS.

Some of you might have disagreed with me when I answered No to the question ” Is WordPress a CMS?” I probably should have said Yes AND No…

I’ve been using WordPress for a number of years now. Version 1.2 might have been the first version I worked with. Originally built as a blogging platform, WordPress 1.2 mainly focused on Posts. The ability to display anything but your blog posts on your home page didn’t exist and I’m not even sure Pages were around. When compared to larger CMS built by Oracle, IBM and Microsoft some would argue that WordPress isn’t a CMS mainly because of the lack of approval process. Content types in WordPress are also limited, but WordPress 3.0, due for release anytime soon, is about to change that. Custom post type and menu management will offer us much more flexibility to manipulate content and thus enhance WordPress’s CMS ability. No changes in approval processes are expected for WordPress, but personally I don’t think that there’s a need for this. If this is all that it takes for WordPress to gain the title CMS, then I think it can do without. Organizations and companies looking for sophisticated approval processes usually have many layers of bureaucracy and probably won’t be looking for a free CMS anyway.

Looking back at an older versions of WordPress, it’s interesting to see how the platform and community has evolved. I’m not sure that Matt and the folks at Automattic perceived that one day WordPress would become much more than a blogging platform and be used as a CMS. I can only see great improvements and exciting features when I look at WordPress’s evolution and I won’t be looking at another CMS solution for a long time.

WordCamp Vancouver 2010
Panel Discussion: WordPress as a CMS

With only a week away from the sold out WordCamp Vancouver, Cameron Cavers, Dave Zille and I have been preparing our slides and questions for our upcoming panel. As you’ve probably heard me say before, WordPress is not only for blogs and we hope to demonstrate what can be achieved during our panel.

Having said that, we’d like to make sure that our presentation meets the audience’s needs. If you have your ticket for WordCamp Vancouver, are interested in learning more about how to use WordPress as a CMS and have a question, please leave a comment below or on the WordCamp blog post.

See you next weekend.