Skip to content

Mark Embling

Roll Your Own...?

My blog is not based on Wordpress or Subtext or any of the others. Its something custom which I put together and occasionally add to or modify to suit my needs as they change. However, its written in PHP and as much as I like PHP for inspiring me to get into web development, in my opinion it has gotten a little tired. I intend to patch a few missing-but-essential features into the current version whilst I rewrite it completely based on Rails 3.

However, some would say I'm foolish for taking this route.

I like my blog. I approached the problem my way and on the whole I think it works pretty well for me. It is missing a bunch of features some might consider essential and it certainly has its own little quirks but I like it. It has grown almost organically from my uni days and has gradually changed its focus from being focused on showcasing me as a potential employee (no blogging features way back) to a site which is becoming more personal and focused on my life as a developer. However as a result of this shift, it has become lacking. It currently has no support for trackbacks/pingbacks or any of the APIs like the MetaWeblog API. Trackbacks/pingbacks are something I really need now in order for it to function effectively as a coherant member of the blogosphere - I'm sure my meagre visitor stats are in part down to this oversight.

Some people think I am making life hard for myself with having to implement all these various features, and that I would be better off simply switching to Wordpress or one of the other blogging engines. I can't disagree - Wordpress is definitely good at what it does. But it's not mine.

I think that Rob Conery nailed it when he wrote about his reasons for writing his own blog:

  1. It’s the perfect app for a geek who wants a blog to build – they’re the perfect domain experts
  2. It’s easy (for the most part) but gets harder and harder the farther in your dive
  3. It’s ubiquitous. What a perfect interview topic: “I’d love to see how you handled asynchronous pings to Technorati and – oh – do you have a POP feature? Also – did you use MetaWeblog or Wordpress?”
  4. It’s your calling card. If your blog rocks – likely you do too. If it sucks and it’s slow – well…
  5. It’s a great way to learn a language. Want to try out ASP.NET MVC? Compare the LOC and features to your Webforms blog – then try Rails…

Writing your own blog allows you to customise the behaviour completely. It is a lot more work for sure, but at the end of it you get something which you created and can be proud of. Something a bit more personal than just another Wordpress blog. Don't get me wrong though, I am not bashing the use of pre-existing blog engines. I know I have reinvented the wheel - Rob did too. But to be honest, I don't really care. This way allows me to take nothing and craft it into something. And somehow it means more for someone to say nice things about something you created yourself than if you just ran an installer and customised a theme.

That is why I won't move to Wordpress and will willingly spend time building my own version. Because I can. Plus I know it sounds a bit illogical, but it means more to me than just a bunch of source code or just another project. I would not presume to tell anyone else they should do the same, but I felt it was worth explaining the reasoning behind my choice.