A rebuilt Wordpress.com

I’m a big fan of self-hosted software, testament to which is a project called Self-hosted web I started a few years ago. Admittedly, I haven’t reviewed a whole lot of new software there for a while, but I still like the idea that one can host software on their own space on the web (and I encourage you to take advantage of it).

Still, there’s great hosted software out there, and then there’s software out there that just kind of bridges the gaps between hosted and self-hosted. Most prominently, that’s WordPress.com. It’s the company founded by the creator of the actual blogging software WordPress, which can still be downloaded and then installed on your own space, but instead of doing this, WordPress.com hosts your blog on their space.

In addition, they publish the Jetpack plugin, a sort of swiss-army knife of a plugin you can use with your self-hosted instance of WordPress. It connects your blog with their WordPress.com servers, thereby allowing you to do all sorts of interesting things like managing several self-hosted blogs from one central command, including updating plugins, or looking at your blogs’ rather detailed statistics.

It’s a great piece of software, but as I mentioned above, your blog is now sort of a hybrid between self-hosted and hosted. And I have to admit, I don’t mind that much. My content is still on my own server and while I can make use of the services provided by the WordPress.com servers, I still retain full ownership of whatever I create on my own space.

A few days ago, Automattic, the company that produces WordPress.com did something very interesting and probably quite groundbreaking. They published a new, totally rewritten version of WordPress.com. Traditionally written in PHP, the WordPress.com user interface is now written in Javascript, a language that actually does what it does inside your browser, as opposed to on the server it’s installed on. It’s a move that clearly takes into account the developments in that field during the last ten years. And that’s not all: they open-sourced the whole thing, too. There’s a very detailed write-up up on their developer blog.

This is quite in line with the whole spirit of WordPress, considering the self-hosted instance of WordPress (found, btw, at WordPress.org, instead of .com), has been open-source all along. Matt Mullenweg, above mentioned mastermind behind all this, posted a detailed blogpost about his intentions behind the rewrite here. To quote him:

A lot of people thought we should keep this proprietary, but throughout my life I’ve learned that the more you give away, the more you get back.

Which just goes to show how utterly cool this man is.

Anyway, I’ve used that software for the last fourteen years, roughly, and I’m happy to see they are ever evolving. I’m in fact writing this post via their WordPress.com editor, which is connected to my self-hosted instance via their Jetpack Plugin. And while it takes away some of that spirit of doing things without having to rely on a hosted version of a software, it makes my life quite a bit easier (not least because this new editor is so smooth and fast). Which has always been the trade-off, but one I’m feeling happy to make at this point.

By the way, with their rewrite of WordPress.com, they also released a desktop app to manage your blogs, currently only available for Mac. If you’re a Windows or Linux user, though, you can sign up for a notification for when they ship that piece of software for your desktop too. I’m looking forward to that, and so should you.