I’ve been planing this for a while, but I’ve finally gone ahead and done it. I ditched my previous site, which was built as an amalgamation of Serendipity (S9Y) and Zend Framework (ZF) and moved to WordPress.
Why? Mostly because the previous setup still required quite a bit of work for me to be happy with it: it looked OK for a visitor, but integrating S9Y into an MVC framework like Zend was somewhat nightmarish, and the admin interface was quite cumbersome even for simple things like adding a post. So I’m setting up a vanilla WordPress installation (apologies about the design; I’m working on it!) which will hopefuly translate into more interesting content and less hassle for me!
I initially set up a ZF site to try and get some more experience with the framework itself, and I am very glad I did. It was a completely overkill application of the technology but I feel I can now use ZF for quite more complex applications: it is very capable and powerful while avoiding the typical “application server” setup that seems so common with larger frameworks. I especially liked the way you can cherry-pick which parts of the framework are of interest, including whether or not the whole MVC stack gets used. For simpler applications something like Cake PHP might still be a faster and simpler way to do things, and I’ll keep to plain-no-frills-PHP for really simple things like prototyping.
As for S9Y, it was a bit of a disappointment. I was looking for a blogging engine that could be plugged into my ZF setup, but since there seem to be none that are happy to do that kind of “blog backend” role only, I settled for something that seemed easy to hack into submission. S9Y does bring its own kitchen sink as well, but it seemed easy to hack. However, two things let it down: convoluted, poorly-documented code, and the templating system.
I won’t say much about the code quality, except that it was at first sight simple but in fact quite messy once you tried to wok out interactions between different parts. The lack of documentation was the really frustrating part, though. So far WordPress seems much better documented and understandable.
The templating system of S9Y is Smarty. There’s nothing wrong with Smarty itself; I guess my problem is with templating systems in general. I know these have their usefulness in some development environments, and of course it is essential to separate as much logic as possible from your markup. However, I don’t think templating systems are a great solution: many times the behaviour of a template is itself complex, and a custom-syntax, crippled language like Smarty is a hindrance.
So there you have the reasons for moving on. Both ZF and S9Y had its fun moments but that setup wasn’t really suitable for this tiny site. Getting rid of the not-invented-here syndrome is also a good thing. In the coming days/weeks I hope to put together a nicer design (I promise I’ll go easy on the orange…) and I now also have fewer excuses to create content more often. So overall I think this was the right decision!