I read an interesting reflection by Jeff Chandler over at Performancing. Jeff asks if all software is destined to become bloatware, and then applies it to blogging platform WordPress. While I don’t agree with the Google Chrome – Mozilla Firefox comparison, basically talking about how much faster and sleeker Chrome is, it is an interesting question.
So far, it looks like WordPress 2.7 will contain a number of integrated plugins into the core leaving some to believe that WordPress is becoming bloated. Although I am not a software developer, this had me thinking on whether or not all software is doomed to become bloatware.
Yes and no, is my answer. Most software becomes bloatware because it isn’t rewritten enough. Think about it, if you build upon a core that is dated and bulky it will affect everything you put on it. However, if you revisit your old code every now and then, keep it up to date, and rewrite portions (or all) of it, there is really no reason why your application should become bloated.
Think about it, if you build upon a core that is dated and bulky it will affect everything you put on it.
If we look at web applications in particular, we’ve got to take scripting and databases into account. PHP gets updated, and suddenly your old code written for an early PHP 4 version should be swapped for PHP 5 code instead. New database queries can be used to speed up your web application, and so on. In fact, because of this, I think revisiting and rewriting the core of a web application is way more important, than traditional software.
WordPress in particular could probably use a rewrite here and there, at least that’s what people are telling me, I wouldn’t know myself. This is probably something that goes for a lot of open source projects. With the November release of WordPress 2.7, we’ll get a bunch of features that previously was handled by plugins. That means that the core is growing, and one should be wary of that. However, this isn’t necessarily an issue, because online you just load what you want to load, and if the WordPress core is organized in a decent manner, that means that the extra stuff won’t be called for unless needed. I’m not really worried about that.
I am, however, a bit more concerned about walking in old tracks, which is another kind of bloating I guess. If you’ve got a great idea in 1.0, you build upon it, and then you build upon it, and build some more. And you know what, then you’re stuck in it! It would be awfully hard for WordPress to lay off the categories, for instance, and every larger revamp they do to the admin interface will turn a lot of people off.
That’s why we get new projects, like Habari.
Any piece of software, online of off, can be bloated. That doesn’t mean that it has to.
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments.