Honestly Kid

by Daniel Damkoehler


2nd thoughts


Are you in a user tunnel?

Are you in a user tunnel?

Working with web tech as with any segment of the IT/Computing world it is easy to fall into what I call a user tunnel. A user tunnel forms when we use the same technology the same way again and again with great or at least reliable success. User tunnels may or may not include work-arounds that compensate for software shortcomings and bugs, but they do keep the user attached to a relatively limited set of functions and options.

For example, someone who uses MS Word to create letters and mailing labels day in and day out may be an expert in mail merge functionality and letter formatting in Word, but she may also work in an MS Word user tunnel that takes her directly through the tasks most necessary to achieving her most common and important goals quite unaware of MS Word’s other functions like inserting and managing citations, or tracking changes. Those are both other user tunnels.

I confess to having formed a bit of a user tunnel in my use of WordPress. I use WordPress primarily as a CMS or blogging platform pretty much as intended with some additional plugins and very rare tweaks to the core code. It works great and achieves my goals.

Meanwhile, other folks have been finding ways to leverage WordPress into a kind of web app framework so that they can achieve far more ambitious and varied goals. Here are a few of the most popular and mature WordPress based web apps out there:

  • BuddyPress – social networking built on WordPress Mu
  • Scriblio -a media management system built from WordPress
  • RoloPress – contact management built on WordPress
  • bbPress – this forum software built by the makers of WordPress might not belong in this list – how much WP code they’re using they don’t say, but it certainly feels WP-esque – and it powers the WP support forums (and on top of all that it has the word ‘press’ in its name)

I wonder how long it will be before someone formalizes this web app framework idea a bit and develops an AnythingPress expressly for quickly building web applications without having to roll everything oneself. In my imaginary back-of-the-napkin version of an AnythingPress, some coder much more clever than me would provide a screen for defining content types, including, excluding, or re-purposing existing WP content types and their functionality. It would probably also include a raft of configurable (via drag and drop) end user forms. The trick of course is to keep it light and open, make it an AnythingPress not an overly complex EverythingPress.

Would AnythingPress turn into something like Drupal? Would it actually be useful and supportable? I don’t know, but I think there’s a de facto AnythingPress forming as developers innovate, don’t you?