"I'm a Drupal dev at a Wordcamp. Feel like a spy. Wish I had dressed more like James Bond."
Wrote that tweet this morning, deep inside enemy territory at the Cove at UCI Irvine's Applied Innovation department.
Before we get into the WordPress stuff, let's talk about the Cove.
I won't talk about it much but they had SO MANY KINDS OF CHAIRS YOU GUYS.
Also hilarious how hard they work to remind you of things that are more fun than being at work: Surfing, camping, sitting in swingy chairs, drinking at tiki bars; and yet here you are at work. It's like being at the beach without any of the things people (nerds) don't like about the beach: Sunshine, sand, water. Just big, big screens. Everywhere. But it's okay, because you LOVE your work, you are nothing if not your work, yadda yadda yadda. I'm actually not ironic in my appreciation of Silicon Valley's improvements on the workplace, but sometimes it felt like you might find Erlich Bachman around the corner. They actually, for real, had a machine that turns air...into water. Not very much water, because it's from air. So, like, you can't ALL have air water. But I had some.
It tasted like water.
Anyway, on to WordCamp:
Here's why I came: I have been building WordPress sites for a while now, and I have been teaching people HOW to build WP sites for a while, and it's just time I finally meet the community. I love the Drupal community and they're such a big part of my Drupal experience that it seems disingenuous to talk shit about WordPress without ever hanging out with them.
Here are impressions through my Drupal lens:
50% of the sessions I attended had a really strange relationship with the "closed-source" part of WordPress (the whole paid plugins/themes marketplace thing).
Side note: I recently reversed my opinion on the paid plugins/themes marketplace aspect of the WP community--I was so jealous of the seeming ease the WordPress community had with a) growing the WP audience, b) building sites, and c) supporting much smaller clients. I was jealous of the acceleration speed of a WP install, the time from 0 to 60, even though I knew as well as the next person that the territory beyond that was as gray and murky in WP as in Drupal.
I got angry about it, and wanted more paid modules and shit for Drupal! And then I installed some free WordPress plugins on a client site, and I returned to the light. This free WP plugin had its own branded interface, including logos, ads and paid upgrade buttons. It was aesthetically gross and it was like someone took a proprietary shit on my open-source software.
Because they did.
Since then, I'm a lot less excited about the paid ecosystem of WordPress.
Anyway, the first session featured a giant disclaimer that the speaker was not getting any kind of kickbacks or referral income or anything from the plugins they suggested. I was so confused until I remembered that, oh yeah, these speakers completely have the power to refer you into a paid service that is difficult to leave. Like, in Drupal, when somebody recommends Views, that's because it's fucking awesome, and free, and super powerful. And nobody is asking you to pay for Views Premium, the very idea of which makes the back of my throat constrict.
Anyway, the other presentation was just a guy destroying the entire concept of paid WP themes. Actual quote: "The other thing WordPress developers try to sell you on is more bullshit." (He said it, not me.) He explained why theme demos are a lie, why most themes are nonsense, and why the entire CONCEPT of a functionality-driven theme is broken.
The most coverage pre-made themes get in Drupal is, "Sure you COULD, but why."
Another thing I learned: WordPress developers look at Wix the way Drupal developers look at WordPress. It's that super easy to use software that has a way bigger advertising budget than you do.
I don't mean to make fun of WordPress people, or their software. I feel happy about this situation, because WordPress is pretty great so if that's the lesser option, we're killing it in Drupal land.
But the real moral of the story? There will always be an option that looks easier and has more fans. I assume Wix and SquareSpace both look at each other this way? And like, static website generators? I mean, we could all just write a single HTML page and call it good, right?!
I feel guilty sometimes because I teach people WordPress when I myself use Drupal. If WP is so great, why don't I use it myself? If Drupal is so great, why don't I teach it?
Because there are tools fit for different use cases. I may find a way to teach Drupal to people, especially Drupal 8 because that shit is EASY to use, y'all. If you haven't tried it, stop being afraid and spin up a dev site for free on Pantheon, right now.
But the fact is, I believe in open-source software, and they're both open-source. I believe in people learning how to build and use their own tools, and they both encourage that. I believe in helping people find a community that will help them learn and teach. There's no reason to be weird about that. The amount of basic WP best practices I understand because I know Drupal best practices is pretty dang high. Let's be friends, you guys!
(lol jk DRUPAL4LIFE)