The main reason I’ve jumped ship is because I’ve not been happy with the way the b2evolution development has been going recently. If you’re interested in why I’ve made this choice, read on. However, if like most people you have no idea what b2evolution is, let alone care about my concerns for it, then don’t bother – be smug in knowing that you never had to worry about this in the first place :).
Back in the day, when I was choosing a tool for my blog, I chose b2e (b2evolution) because I wasn’t a big fan of Moveable Type. And I’m still not a big fan of it today, despite being perceived to be the resident MT expert at work, where I admin the BBC’s only public-facing MT install.
At the time of creating my personal blog, Moveable Type had just become a commercial piece of software, which was “interesting” considering some of it had been produced opensource. Frankly, I didn’t want to pay £60 for it and I was also concerned that the new commercial licensing agreements would mean people couldn’t create open-source plugins easily.
B2e’s main attraction, for me, was that it was a nice example of dynamically generated blog software. For small sites I think dynamically generated pages are viable, you only make gains from statically generating your pages when you scale up to big multi-server sites like BBC News, which is quite-rightly based on a static-page-generation model. backstage.bbc.co.uk, which runs on MT, is probably also going to be popular enough to warrant it’s static-nature, however looking back on it I would have loved to have done that in WordPress too.
B2e seemed simple, clean, and supported multiple blogs which could be aggregated together – a feature I was very pleased with as I wanted to run a “with personal entries” version of my blog (so that all my personal musings could be separated off from those who were just interested in my “professional views”). As it turns out, mixing ‘business with pleasure’ seems to part of the currency of blogs – so I’ve ditched that with this migration.
I think the warning bells over b2e started ringing when I went to start hacking the code. I wanted to change the way it handled trackbacks and comments because, “out of the box”, it wasn’t doing a good job of stopping spam. And some really poor UI work meant that everytime you went to ban a keyword, the confirmation page not only displayed every mention of that word in your blog, but also included every existing banned keyword. This resulted in an extrememly heavy page to download every time you wanted to blacklist a keyword.
I wanted to make some significant changes, with the view to submitting them back to the b2e source repositary. However, as I delved into the code, it was clear that a lot of the PHP was not great, some awful. On the opensource community site, it appeared that the one guy who maintains (read: ‘owns’) b2e didn’t seem that open to anyone submitting changes to the code.
The final straw for me was when he announced that he was going to re-write the entire main engine to b2evolution (the evocore). Good news, I initially thought. It turned out that the company he was working for had been using the b2e core for the basis of a CMS (content management system) – although he was clear they were not using it in it’s “traditional blog” nature. Further digging around the site suggested that he was going to re-write the evocore/b2e engine for his company’s CMS, and then put it back into b2e.
Alarm bells went off at that point. For a start, CMS’s are my software engineering specialism and I know that “bastardising” one type of CMS (ie a blog) to be used in another is asking for trouble. Taking b2e as a basis of their CMS is obviously their problem (Round peg, square hole anyone?). But rewriting their CMS engine and then migrating it back into b2e would mean us users would be on the receiving end of the kludges and the hacks. Round peg, bashed into square hole, deforming the peg into something half round, half square then bashed into a round hole… It also showed their colours as to any possible community involvement of writing the engine and ensuring it went in the direction the community wanted – none.
So I decided to jump ship. My main concern was preserving my urls. I can’t stress this issue enough to you bloggers – think about what will happen to your inbound links if you ever change software! Fortunatly WordPress was at the top of my list of candidates and it is another fork of the original B2. As such it was possible to cajole WP to produce matching URLs as my b2e install
So here we are. Running on WordPress. With a nice in-vogue minimalist template – if this were the fashion industry I’d be saying “we’re far too busy to write our own fancy templates, darling”.
(I sorry – I think this has been one of the most boring and turgid posts I’ve written, but at least it explained why I chose b2e, and why I moved off of it when I realised it was going downhill)