Hello WordPress!

Hello Wordpress

Convert Journal has been re-implemented on a new blogging platform! Subscribers (RSS/Atom feeds, Facebook, Twitter, E-mail, etc.) should not be affected. The site URL (and all old URLs within the site) should still work fine. In short, you should not have to do anything at all to read it in whatever fashion that you have been. I am keeping my fingers crossed…

Until now (18 months), I have published this blog on Google’s Blogger service. It has served us well in general and is an excellent platform for basic blogging. There have been some disappointments however:

  • Early on, the blog simply vanished and was replaced by a Google message that gave the impression I had closed or deleted it (I had not). That put me into a panic! Of course, with Google there is never anyone to contact or notice. I eventually found some hoops to jump through, waited and finally the blog reappeared. Again, without any explanation or notice. This happened twice. I moved the blog to dedicated account hoping that would help but have been concerned ever since. I remain a staunch Google fan, but my trust in Blogger was shaken.
  • Blogger comments are awkward and at least one of my subscribers has had difficulty leaving them. I suspect Blogger in this case.
  • About a month ago, Blogger went unavailable for updates or new posts for a day or two. I can live with that more than some bloggers, but it doesn’t build confidence.
  • In the last few weeks Blogger has caused my “Latest Posts” widget to be unreliable. No explanation, just odd.

Beyond the disappointments, as I learned more about blogging I kept running-up against more and more Blogger limitations. Fortunately, I am a geek with solid web skills so I was able to accomplish some things with CSS tricks, some JavaScript, sub-domains, etc. For example, the Essays page, Videos page and list of convert books were all produced by custom code.

I don’t want to sound ungrateful. I really appreciate Google, their Blogger service and think it fills an important need. For myself, personally (I know, redundant), I am ready for something with more capability and reliability – that is WordPress.

Before using Blogger I had setup 2 previous Blogger blogs and so it is with WordPress. At the end of last year I jumped into WordPress for another Catholic site – something I will share with you soon. I had known a good bit about their history (if not the hands-on experience until last year) of WordPress and was favorably disposed toward them. When I re-implemented the other site in WordPress I knew it would be the right choice and it definitely was. I was quite impressed. At that time, we also went with a template framework from StudioPress. That was also a very good choice as the Genesis framework is truly excellent, their prices and license very reasonable and support is outstanding. I still don’t think this is for newbies, but for those with the underlying skills, it is a powerful base upon which to build a blog. Naturally, I chose WordPress and StudioPress for this re-implementation.

WordPress is a high-quality, Open Source product that has gotten better and better over the years. Like Blogger, it is offered at WordPress.com as a service. They host your blog for you on their servers at no charge but with certain limitations. To fully unleash the power of WordPress, it needs to be “self-hosted.” Fortunately that is no problem for me as I already have a powerful, highly reliable Virtual Private Server for my business clients.

I keep calling this a “re-implementation” and not a “port” because so much has changed “under the covers.” Much of my custom programming has been replaced by the native power of WordPress, Genesis and plugins.

The re-implementation keeps the general appearance of the original site. Frequent visitors will notice some changes but there has not been a wholesale design replacement. There is more “polish.” The new infrastructure is much easier for me. For example, the Essays page is now generated automatically. Maintenance is easier too, such as finding and fixing broken links on old posts. I can finally make edits (such as fixing typos) on comments – something that always annoyed me with Blogger’s apparent decision that editing comments was somehow wrong.

I hope this has been helpful for my techie and blogger readers. I am sure most of my usual audience had stopped reading after the first paragraph or two! As always, feel free to comment or send me an E-mail if you like.

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