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Interview mit Ex-WordPress-Entwicklern

20. Juli 2007 von Michael | Wordpress

Anfang Januar 2007 hatte ich vom Blogsystem-Projekt Habari berichtet (offizielle Webseite), das von mehreren Ex-Entwicklern der Blogengine WordPress entwickelt wird.

Vor wenigen Tagen wurden nun 9 sehr interessante, vom Türken Hasan Karaboga gestellte, Fragen durch die Habari-Entwickler ( Khaled Abou Alfa (brokenkode), Chris J. Davis (chrisdmitri), Owen Winkler (epithet), Jay Pipes (jaypipes), Thimal Jayasooriya (lairmail), Matt Read (, Matthias Bauer (moeffju), Caius Harcourt Durling (nemo8686), Randy Walker (randy.walker), Rich Bowen (rbowen2000), Scott Merrill (smerrill), Vicki C. Frei (sylvermoon), Chris Dary (umbrae)) beantwortet.

Da der originale Mailinglisten-Eintrag aufgrund fehlender Formatierungen nicht sehr lesefreundlich ist, habe ich das Interview entsprechend formatiert und und unten noch mal veröffentlicht.

Es finden sich viele interessante und auch kritische Aussagen zu WordPress, so fallen Worte wie „Diktatur“ und etwa die Aussage, dass die Anzahl an Entwicklern, die sich aktiv in WordPress einbringen dürfen, immer geringer wird. Zwischen den Zeilen erkennt man noch einiges mehr an Unzufriedenheit mit WordPress und der kommerziellen Schiene Automattic. Aber lest am besten selbst.
Wann die erste stabile Version von Habari veröffentlicht wird, konnte nicht gesagt werden, es macht aber den Anschein, dass dies noch einige Monate dauern wird („We have a commitment, especially in these early days, to release when its ready.„).

1. What is the advantage of Habari’s object oriented programming for the end-users?

  • Matthias Bauer: If by „end users“ you mean people who „just“ use the software without ever dabbling in theme or plugin creation, then there is no direct benefit for them. Indirectly, everyone benefits from a clean codebase, though: If it’s easier to develop for the platform, there will be more choice for the end-user, whether it’s themes or plugins. A clean and modular codebase also makes it easier for new people to join the project.
  • Owen Winkler: Object-oriented code requires more mental discipline during its initial construction than traditional top-down coding. The result of the extra work is more modular code that is easier to understand and extend. End users will never need to know that the code is object oriented to reap the additional benefits that developers will be able to provide as a result.

    There are other benefits to Habari’s coding standards beyond OOP, including a commitment to inline documentation. Something crazy like 30% of the overall size of the code is currently documentation. Standardizing on the next important version of PHP gives Habari an advantage as well.

  • Thimal Jayasooriya: It depends largely on the type of end user.

    Plugin authors and theme developers benefit from not having to worry about global variables and (in my personal opinion) the cleaner structure of code in an object oriented system.

    If you just need to run a blog? Then there is no direct benefit; but
    the focus on a design upfront helps bring about cleaner code. In
    theory, at least. How well this works in practice is something you
    should judge for yourself by looking at the Habari code.

  • Chris J. Davis: I would say that average end users will reap the benefits of our object model every time they load a page, or publish an entry. Habari is considerably faster than any other blog/CMS I have used and a large reason for that is the lean, object oriented code we have written.
  • Scott Merrill: Object oriented programming provides a lot of flexibility „under the hood“. While end-users won’t directly make use of this flexibility, developers can use this to make the end-user experience better. Our object model allows developers to create new post types easily (think podcasting, video, etc) and the Habari internals will all _just work_. The end user will be freed from juggling some of the more complex plugins in other blog solutions.

2. Some of the developers of Habari were contributing to WordPress at past. What are the most important reasons for you, for leaving WordPress, and starting Habari Project? Were you bothered because of WordPress team’s commercial activities?

  • Vicki C. Frei: Personally, my reasons for looking away from WordPress are several-fold:
    1. While commercial activities aren’t bad in and of themselves even in supposedly „open source“ software, covert commercial activities (that is, those which the wider userbase discovers only by accident) are distasteful in the extreme. I have a hard time recommending software to clients where anything hidden goes on.
    2. WordPress migrated from a mostly team-oriented development affair into a dictatorship, where only the „name“ associated with the software makes any decisions, and quite frequently in my view they’re the wrong decisions.
    3. WordPress, instead of being continued in development in one direction has now two branches. The „old“ branch in my viewpoint should have been made as solid as possible rather than the developer chasing the newest toys simply because he’s far more interested in web20 than necessary -all that „web20-ness“ could quite well be done within the plugin community rather than bloating the code with it and forcing it on those for whom it’s of no use whatsoever. The only reason I’m still using WP on client sites is that the 2.0 „old“ branch is still being supported -presumably through early 2010 if the dev can be believed.
  • Owen Winkler: Being so involved in WordPress for the years prior to Habari makes this a difficult, involved, and somewhat political question to answer.

    Primarily, Habari is a group of people I like to work with. Working within the Habari community feels like the early days of my involvement with WordPress. I expect that Habari, like WordPress, will have pains as it grows, but I trust that the people I’m doing this with share my ideals for creating a truly open blogging platform, and will help evolve the project in the direction that is best. It’s really the compact that Habari works with and the community that agrees to it that makes Habari superior.

    If WordPress could do anything that would have me consider them again, it would be to release the WordPress code to the community under a neutral custodial organization, rather than Automattic holding it hostage for their own commercial use. The irony is that without the leadership that Automattic provides, a truly open source WordPress might not survive, for many of the same reasons that a fork of WordPress would find it difficult to survive.

  • Chris J. Davis: As with Owen Winkler, this is a hard, messy question to answer. I was very involved in the WP community for a number of years and still have a lot of love for the community. As I have said before, I came to a place in my understanding of OSS development that made it necessary to leave WP and find something new. I wanted to develop in a community that was open to everyone’s input and rewarded hard work, regardless of who you were. That is why I helped start Habari.
  • Scott Merrill: I was not bothered at all by the commercial activities surrounding WordPress. If I had been, I would have argued strenuously against Habari’s use of the Apache Software License, which is arguably much more business-friendly than the GNU Public License.

    In my experience, WordPress is open source in name only. More precisely, the WordPress code is, for most people, read-only. As time goes by, the number of people who are able to meaningfully add new code dwindles. Moreover, it seems to me that WordPress, as it gets older, has developed an aversion to experimentation. It was for these reasons that I was so excited to join the Habari team. We want to encourage (and reward!) participation and experimentation.

3. There are lots of blogging systems in the world. What are the differences and advantages of Habari, and why people should use Habari instead of WordPress and other blog software?

  • Vicki C. Frei:
    1. Habari is a built-from-the-ground-up blogging system. Other systems seem to have been tacked onto over time without consideration of where the software started, where it’s been in the meantime, or where it’s going.

      Habari’s coders are longtime blog software users. They spent many months discussing what a „pipeline“ schematic of a good blogging program should look like, and that’s what they’re providing – unlike the „DIY plumber“ sort….

    2. Habari uses state-of-the-art technology/backend programs rather than relying (except for html4.0 *sigh*) on programs which if not already dated will be soon. Forward thinking/forward moving is inherently preferable, since „the internet is a fluid non-living organism which changes on a micro-milliseconds basis“ (I made that one up myself) – which means no one’s going to keep up with or on top of it, but living in the past (php4 etc.) isn’t wise….
    3. I won’t say „people should use Habari instead of WordPress“ etc. I will say that people should have a better choice of options from which to select. And that I believe Habari is a better choice for many even now in beta, and will be much more so in the future.
  • Matthias Bauer: Habari starts with a clean slate, is lean and mean and modular and „agile“. This gives us a chance to closely follow our users wishes and current trends and letting people pick and choose their functionality instead of just forcing a big, monolithic app on them.
  • Owen Winkler: Unlike anything already available, Habari was conceived after blogging for the purposes of blogging. The other tools, while they may have pioneered, are mostly continued addendum to existing code. Habari is a ground-up construction with all of the knowledge of blogging already existing.

    Still, be practical – Habari might not be the best choice. People should choose what they need based on what the software provides. That said, Habari’s flexibility of features gives it an impressive resume for anyone who would use it for blogging. Our plans include database-independence, a pluggable theme engine, built-in spam protection, and bundled documentation. That combination of features sets it apart from everything else that’s available, and doesn’t touch on the robust API and PHP5 compatibility.

  • Thimal Jayasooriya: Habari is built from the ground up, the developers are in a unique position to assess and develop architectural solutions for problems affecting bloggers today. People in the team are actively thinking about issues such as spam prevention and statistics gathering right now – instead of as an afterthought.

    Habari is populated by people who blog fairly regularly and have contributed actively to other blogging software. There are people who’ve been building software for a while, published authors, members of large open source project communities (like the ASF). There is a huge diversity of experience and backgrounds; that helps immensely.

  • Chris J. Davis: The right tool for the right job. That is my motto. Habari leverages new and exciting technology and methodologies. As others have stated, we started with a clean slate code wise, and a much fuller understanding of blogging. We want to make Habari the best software for a number of different types of blogging, textual blogging, audio blogging, video blogging. etc.
  • Scott Merrill: Folks should use the blogging solution that they feel best enables them to blog. WordPress (and Serendipity, and Drupal, and all the others) are fine choices. It is my opinion that Habari stays out of your way more, which is something I seek in a blogging tool: I want to concentrate on the writing, and not the tool.

    Habari, currently, has a very strong focus on _blogging_. Many other blogging tools veer off into „content management“. I believe that blogging is a subset of the latter; so while a content management system can be used for blogging, a strong blog tool might not do a good job at content management. The focus on blogging allows us to focus more precisely on the needs and wants of bloggers, rather than trying to be all things to all people.

4. What is your ideal; do you think that Habari will be the best and widely used blog publishing system in future? What will change in blogsphere after Habari?

  • Vicki C. Frei: I would envision Habari opening the door to those who might be wanting to get away from „canned“ online blogging tools such as, blogger, typepad et al, and who may be intimidated by the self-hosted software blog setup situations, of which only WordPress can be classed anywhere close to „simple“ (and it’s not really any more….)

    While self-hosted WordPress for instance used to be an easy less-than-5-minute install, I do not believe that now to be the case. It is so for me, some of the time, but I have honestly got to the point where I’ll use Fantastico to install it for clients simply because it works first time every time with that while I’ve had my problems with it manually lately (especially with upgrades).

    Habari’s install routine even in beta is practically flawless and foolproof, and I don’t see that changing as release approaches. This will make the program EXTREMELY attractive to those for whom installing WordPress has become a nightmare (you only have to read the WP forum to see how often that occurs!), and for those who, having looked at the blog solutions within Drupal, ModX etc., are making wardsigns against evil….

  • Matthias Bauer: While it would be nice if everyone loved Habari, it doesn’t really make a big difference to me. I like creating, and I like great programs, and if we can make a few people happy with Habari, that’s great. If we convince some people that clean, modular code is a good thing, hooray. But I have no big ambition of transforming the blogosphere – Habari is just a tool, big changes come from people.
  • Owen Winkler: I would love for Habari to have a userbase as large as even some of the other smaller players in blog software. I would be thrilled to have more. I will put Habari into the hands of as many people as I can to let them try it, but it’s not my goal to convert people. I think that if our software doesn’t sell them by itself, then we either need to fix the software or narrow our niche audience.
  • Thimal Jayasooriya: I have no idea if Habari will be the best and most used blogging software. I’d certainly like it to be used by many. More importantly to me, though – choice is a great thing and if Habari strikes the right balance between being developer friendly and accessible to people without a great deal of apriori technical knowledge – I’d personally be very happy

    The one change I’d hope for is that more people are compelled to blog – because Habari makes it easier for them to do so. I’m just here to build cool software – software that works for me and for countless other people like me.

  • Chris J. Davis: I would love for Habari to reign supreme as the „bestest little blogging tool in the interwebs“, but the chances of that are not the best. What I hope Habari does is help push the adoption of newer, exciting technology like PHP 5. If we could get everyone running on PHP 5, that woulb be enough for me personally.
  • Scott Merrill: I think that Habari will be a strong contender in the blogging space, for a number of reasons. The well-documented code should make it easy for would-be developers to join the project and affect development. The open, forward-thinking design should make it easy for Habari to support blogging standards that develop after the tools do (see for example how complex it can be to get podcasting enabled in some solutions which were designed before podcasting became popular). The Apache Software License should make it easy to use Habari in business endeavors, without some of the ambiguities associated with the GPL.

    At the end of the day, though, if Habari advances the craft of blogging, I will consider it a success. If Habari encourages other tools to improve and innovate, I will consider it a success.

5. What are your thoughts about Movable Type’s being open source?

  • Owen Winkler: I think it’s great that Six Apart is offering MT4 as open source. I don’t think it will affect their bottom line, since their corporate clients will be willing to pay for support anyway. And the folks that use MT as a free offering will be happy not having to deal with licensing as with the prior version. I’m curious what Six Apart plans to do regarding support for open source MT though, since without it, they’ll be leaving all of those users in the lurch.
  • Thimal Jayasooriya: The more the merrier.
  • Chris J. Davis: Having used MT in the past, this was a welcome surprise. The folks at MT make a great product and I am realyl glad that they have taken this step.
  • Scott Merrill: I think it demonstrates the value of open source development. Passionate users become passionate developers, and have a vested interest in the success of the product. I’m glad that SixApart is going to encourage a healthy community around their new open source project. I have no doubt that the best ideas from MTOS will filter up to their commercial projects — I sincerely hope that ideas will flow the other way, too. Otherwise they run the risk of being seen as using the open source offering for a predatory purpose.

6. WordPress users may import their databases to their Habari blog. Well then, will it possible to use WordPress plugins and themes in Habari. (We know, Habari’s codes are independent of WordPress) And also, will you prepare importing tools for the other blogging systems and services?

  • Matthias Bauer: I’m certain we’ll get more importing tools. About plugin/theme level compatibility, it’s something I have thought about and while it is possible, I’m not sure when it will be implemented, if ever. However, both would be possible from a plugin, so anyone could go and implement that feature.
  • Owen Winkler: As far as I know, there are no official plans for using WordPress plugins and themes in Habari at the moment. There has been some talk about writing a theme engine that would support some great many existing WordPress themes. I think we’d like to get a stable Habari release finished before taking that on though. Of course, anyone who wants to try developing it would have my support, and likely the support of many others.

    It’s a good idea to include importing tools from other systems and services, although I couldn’t say at the moment which ones we might include as part of a 1.0 launch.

  • Thimal Jayasooriya: Will it be possible to use WordPress plugins and themes? I’d certainly like that to happen. It would (if nothing else) make my forthcoming task of porting a few custom WordPress plugins much easier. I don’t know of any such initiative in the works so far – but I’d certainly support such a move.

    Importing tools? I’d suggest that anyone who wants an importing tool send a mail to the mailing list. Lots of the developers onboard thus far seem to be from a WordPress background – but I’m sure it’s a matter of voicing interest to get an importer done for other blogging software.

  • Chris J. Davis: I am assuming that once we are in full swing (meaning a 1.0 release) we will start seeing more and more import plugins rise to the surface.
  • Scott Merrill: There have been a number of casual conversations about how to utilize WordPress themes. It ought to be possible, with the aid of a helper plugin and a new theme Engine, but no one has spent any real time working on a specific implementation.

    It’s unlikely that WordPress plugins will work without modification. For many WordPress plugins, it ought not be too difficult to translate them into Habari plugins. We’ll have thorough plugin and development documentation to help plugin authors convert, and the mailing lists are a fine place to discuss specific questions anyone might have.

    As for importers: A successful importer really needs to know the original system’s database design, and we simply don’t have the experience with many other systems. I think we’re all happy to help with any problems folks might have developing importers, though, so it ought not be overly taxing to create importers. Anyone interested in importing from another system should subscribe to the habari-dev mailing list and speak up!

7. How will Habari’s localization support? (In WordPress, the localization teams translate some system files besides the language file. And the official WordPress package does not include any locale, this is a disadvantage for non-English users.)

  • Matthias Bauer: Personally, I want to offer different packages of Habari for download, that would include localization, probably by region (so you’d have a Western Europe package, for example, or a South American one). I also want to keep all translations together where possible. Much of this is still speculation though, as Habari is not readied for full localization yet.
  • Owen Winkler: I’m not the best to talk about this, and it’s a case where I’m glad we have such a diverse team whose individual interests can be met by developing for the project. There are folks who developed multilingual projects for WordPress who are anxious to help form Habari’s localization features, and I’m glad they’re on board.
  • Chris J. Davis: The plans on the books are to let the people who know and are passionate about this stuff have at it. We have had a number of people speak up and offer thier services to us as translators. It should be exciting.
  • Scott Merrill: I think we all recognize the importance of providing full support to non-English speakers. Blogging is not strictly an English-speaking phenomenon! We’ve had a lot of people contact us to express a willingness to help translate Habari into their language. We’re still working out how best to handle localization. When we finish that, the specific langauge translations shouldn’t take too long to produce.

    Most of us on the Habari team are native English speakers, though, so we’re not entirely sure how best to distribute Habari to non-English speakers. Anyone with an opinion on the matter should join one of our mailing lists and make their suggestions!

8. When will you publish the stable release of Habari?

  • Matthias Bauer: When it’s done :)
  • Owen Winkler: As soon as there are enough ponies to merit a stable.
  • Thimal Jayasooriya: When it’s done.
  • Chris J. Davis: We have a commitment, especially in these early days, to release when its ready. We want to release something beautiful and as bug free as possible. This means a bit more development and testing time than some people are used to.
  • Scott Merrill: When it’s done.

9. What do you think about the future of the blogs? Blogs are also very popular in Turkey nowadays. (e.g. June Wrap-up, Matt says that „After English the top languages are Spanish, Turkish, Brazilian Portuguese, Italian, and Indonesian.“) If you have a message to Turkish bloggers, we will be glad to hear them.

  • Vicki C. Frei: Blogging is a great leveler. It gives everyone everywhere (except of course where not allowed by repressive governments) a voice of his or her own, a way to reach out to the world, to say „This is who I am, these are my concerns, how can we change the world?“

    The single most important thing about blogging and bloggers in my view is that (excepting defamation or release of government secrets of course!) there’s no „shutting us up“. Our messages will always have a vehicle…. Unless every government in the world suddenly chooses to act in concert to ban blogging, blogs and bloggers are here to stay.

  • Matthias Bauer: I wouldn’t know how to answer that. I don’t think blogs will be going away any time soon, but I don’t know how they might develop. The basic concept only goes so far, I suppose.

    The only Turkish I remember is „elmayim“, which is probably misspelled, but supposedly means „I am an apple“. Does that count as a message? :)

  • Owen Winkler: There are a lot of problems to be solved with blogging before we can close the book on development. Multilingual and non-English blogs are two of these. Spam is another. Hopefully, opening our audience to the former can have some influence on the latter, and I’d be happy to have enabled any voice, no matter what language they use, to speak via blog.
  • Chris J. Davis: I hope that blogs continue to be what they are so good at; a platform for the everyperson to speak their mind. And my message for our friends in Turkey: keep blogging!
  • Scott Merrill: Blogging is here to stay. What it will look like in another five years is anyone’s guess, but I hope that Habari will have had a positive influence.

    My message to the Turkish bloggers is: if you’re unsatisfied with the state of any other blogging tool, please work with us to make Habari work for you!

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