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?