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A business case for WordPress

Wednesday, 6 February 2008 — by

WordPress as a CMS (Content Management System) commands a great deal of respect, as do its developers. And while the Open Source heritage of WordPress is laudable, is it time to consider offering tools to “incentivize” commercial development?

WordPress logo in blackI ask because I’m currently in the process of performing a feasibility study into developing another WordPress Plugin that would work in conjunction with several other applications across a variety of web services.

My main concern is that the moment I launch my Plugin, anyone can read my code. And I have to wonder how many other businesses have looked into Plugin development only to discover there’s no formal WordPress-sanctioned method of safeguarding their code.

Quite recently, I released my Socialize Me! Plugin for free. But there are very definite business benefits in doing that — I managed to get some solid, global exposure, demonstrating my ability to write innovative software.

This “loss leader” exercise helps build up a sense of credibility and trust, both of which are essential ingredients for the success of any business.

Encrypted PHP — the obfuscation generation

There are methods to encode and encrypt PHP (a common programming language for web applications, which is also the language WordPress is written in) but I’ll admit I don’t know enough about that kind of thing.

And to the best of my knowledge, the encoding part is where the cost is, while the decoding aspect doesn’t appear to be supported across all LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL & PHP) web hosting providers.

The lack of built in mechanisms for encrypting PHP could be looked at in one of two ways: 1. the Open Source ancestry of PHP might have looked upon such proprietary-friendly methods of obfuscation with disdain, or 2. Zend are protecting their own business interests by charging for such things.

I’ve noticed more Linux people passing through my ‘blog recently, maybe you guys know more?

Adding value to WordPress Plugin development

I’m pretty new to writing Plugins for WordPress. But I’m not new to writing PHP web applications.

When I look at WordPress, I see a CMS that’s not perfect — the hideous template architecture being a prime example. But I also see room for additional features that could help win over the business crowd, such as:

  1. A certification procedure for Plugins, that considers stability, security and privacy, among other factors.
  2. Some portable method of “locking down” and protecting commercially sensitive code.

I fully appreciate that some of the Open Source advocates might not like the second idea, but from my point of view, I really do not want to be sharing all of my efforts with everyone else. But this is an old debate, so I’ll spare you the arguments.

And I must stress that in both cases, I’m proposing an elective and not mandatory process.

Knowing what I do about company IT departments, concerns about a software package need to addressed, policies must be remain tact and procedures followed through.

By having some formal, recognized method of certification, those same IT departments would have one less reason to deny WordPress server space, raising the already high level of credibility that WordPress enjoys and possibly beating off bespoke or paid-for “shrink wrapped” solutions in the process.

I’ll freely admit I’m by no means an authority on WordPress. But as a businessman, if I’m to write more Plugins for WordPress, being rewarded for my efforts comes first, with my love of programming coming a distant second…

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Scott Frangos → Thursday, 7 February 2008 @ 0:45 BDT

Hi -
Interesting discussion, and that’s a nice plugin you developed. I am thinking that some of the proprietary versus open source issues may have been tackled already by a company called “KnowNow” — they offer an “Enterprise” version of WordPress for larger organizations.

I am aware of a number of institutions and larger companies (Ford Motors, for one) that use WordPress as a framework, and evidently they are OK with the security of the code as it is now.

Continued success in plugin development.

Scott
Scott Frangos, Managing Editor
WebHelperMagazine.com

Wayne Smallman → Thursday, 7 February 2008 @ 0:55 BDT

Hi Scott, thanks for the quality comment!

Yes, I was very conscious of just dragging up too much of what’s already been said before about Open Source versus proprietary.

You’ve added plenty of value to my little discussion, which I’ll follow up once I’m in the office tomorrow (it’s 7 minutes to 12 midnight over here).

Just to clarify, I wasn’t questioning the security of WordPress, I was suggesting that some certification method for Plugins would help avoid Plugins introducing security and instability issues.

Thanks again, and speak soon…

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