Habari = WordPress x 1337

That’s right, WordPress is not powering my blog.

I will admit that WordPress is a well-functioning piece of software. For the masses, it is a great CMS that supports everything from a basic blog to a high traffic commercial storefront. However, one must assume the perspective of function over form in order to feel justified in these claims.

The more I work with WordPress, the more I appreciate how well it functions. This is mainly due to the fact that the code supporting the CMS appears to be stuck together with a strange combination of Elmer’s Paste, spit, tape, and strategic stacking. Also, while the entire premise behind WordPress and their plugin architecture is very user-friendly; it negates any sort of standards implementation. So, in the battle of form over function, or even in a comparison that considers both, WordPress’s lacking attention to form has a more than noticeable impact.

If your immediate response is, “Who cares about form. The code either works or it doesn’t. Pretty code doesn’t make better software, functional code is all that matters.” then here you go - WordPress, don’t ever look back. I disagree with your position, but I can appreciate it under particular circumstances. For those of us who do find form to be as (more) important as (than) function, Habari is a superior option.

Habari has an active team of developers who are quite helpful, have an acute attention to generating code that is as elegant as it is functional, and have an appreciation for the fact that more is not always better. To illustrate one way that Habari supports the ‘Less is more’ practice, here is the post creation screen in WordPress: wp-post.png And here is the comparable screen from Habari: h-post.png (Did you notice the bars beneath the main content area? Yes, you can resize that. Brilliant.)

Additionally, the base installation for Habari arrives in a 1.21MB archive (0.99MB if you ignore the manual that ships with Habari, but how awesome is it that Habari ships with a manual?). While file sizes or file counts are hardly an important concern today, from a design perspective, one has to wonder why WordPress ships as a 3.01MB archive. Do you really need all that for a blog? If they have such a nice plugin architecture, why don’t they strip down the base install?

Simple is elegant. For me, the icing on the cake is the fact that Habari includes keyboard shortcuts in its admin interface. I love keyboard shortcuts, almost as much as my inner elitist loves knowing that the code powering my blog is probably much better organized than yours. Did I mention it has built-in access control for user and groups, and a pleasantly simple, yet abundantly effective logging functionality? Yes, you read that, built in logging functionality, right in the admin interface, out of the box.

To credit WordPress, the 3.0 updates did make some much needed upgrades to code, and were a step in the right direction. But it remains clear that WordPress’s primary focus is functional; Habari has made it clear that form is just as important to them. This focus means PDO implementation in core code, object oriented design (from the ground up), and attention to technologies that simply weren’t a factor when WordPress was initially designed.

I will continue to use WordPress for sites that I am generating for others, at least for now (hopefully Habari 1.0 will change that). Although, I think Habari has great usage possibilities for both developers (or anyone who is reasonably comfortable in PHP/HTML/CSS), as well as the computer illiterate (for whom WordPress offers too many options). There is already a cult following behind Habari, and at the very least, it is a product worth your careful review.

// TODO Habari theme(s), Piwik installation, GWT deployment w/ App Engine
// – imperialWicket

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