For some time now, I’ve been a big fan of using WordPress for web application development, but I think that developers actually embracing the CMS (let alone seeing the CMS) as a foundation for something like that is still a couple of years off.

Sure, we’re going to see some people using it for things like that. I mean, we’re already seeing some out-of-the-box applications like AppPresser, but projects like that are the exceptio, not the rule. In my own experience, I’ve found that clients are very interested in using WordPress, but using it for more application-like capabilities.

This doesn’t mean that gigs for themes, plugins, and what not are slowing down, but that people are wanting web applications for themselves or their companies, but want to be able to administer it using the WordPress dashboard or using a some custom front-end work.

But that’s beside the point.

What I’m getting at is that as developers, designers, and other people end up seeing WordPress as potential foundation for web application development, the more innovative things we’re going to see entering the space.

Aesop Story Engine and Story.AM

Case in point: Nick Haskins has been at work on this plugin called Aesop Story Engine for quite sometime. The gist of the plugin straight from the homepage is as follows:

Aesop Story Engine is a collection of thirteen unique components wrapped in a plugin that can be used to tell rich, interactive stories in any WordPress theme.

Not bad, right? The ability to write long-form, self-hosted stories with front-end editing. Really cool.

Then, this week, Nick launched Story.AM which is essentially a hosted version of the Aesop Story Engine, plus a few perks. Even cooler.


Remember, this is all on WordPress.

The purpose of this post isn’t necessarily to take a look at the features of what Nick is offering (as nice as they are), but to showcase exactly the kinds of things people are able to do given the idea, enough time, and talent to build something really creative on top of WordPress, and to show how poorly the community reacts to it.

Cannibalizing Our Own

I think that the community as a whole does a disservice to our peers when we reduce things like this to “so it’s blogging from the front-end like Medium” because it completely ignores much of the finer details that have done into building a service like this.

Sure, it’s one thing to have an elevator pitch to give someone about what it is, but how many people still really know what Medium is? And yes, it’s natural to draw comparisons to products that are already available, but just because two products are similar does not mean that they are actually the same.

What’s the purpose of each product? Its vision? Its mission? When you look at the two, they are very different.

On top of that, I find this to be symptomatic of a much larger problem that exists within the WordPress development community and that’s this:

We want to see WordPress succeed, to continue to gain market share, and continue to grow into the most powerful CMS that’s available – some of us even want to continue to see it be used as a foundation for web applications (or, as Matt has said, “an operating system for the web.”), but our actions seem to contradict our words.

Sure, there are some people who release some really cool themes and plugins and they get some nice praise, but other people do something that’s completely out of left-field, that bucks the trend, and is actually really cool, and rather than offering praise, investigation into how it was built, interviews, and an attempt to generally learn more about the project, we find the closest competitor that exists, say they are the same, and then just throw our own under the bus saying it’s misplaced effort.

We can’t have it both ways.

That is, we can’t say we want WordPress to be used for all of these innovative things and then negatively critique what someone has done using WordPress then go back to waving our “WordPress all the things flag.” That hypocritical attitude is so counter-productive, yet so pervasive among some people.

It’s one thing to be consistent – if you’re not a fan of WordPress, then go ahead and continue to critique it and everything that it touches. That’s your thing and at least you’re staying the course.

But if you are a fan of WordPress – especially if you’re making a living off of it – stop preaching about how things ought to be and how things should be, stop knocking on things that everyone else is making be pushing the boundaries of what’s been done so far, and/or start creating things for other people that actually do the very things about which you’re preaching.

Otherwise, you’re just adding noise to an already loud space. No one likes that.