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WordPress vs. Custom Scripting

I run a bunch of sites, as you may have read.  But I often run into the problem of deciding whether to use WordPress or writing my own custom script to create a site on a template.

The Major Tipping Point

So what causes this difference?  Well – I think I would like to use WordPress for every site I create ( at this time ) – however…  I am having trouble locating a plugin or script that will allow me to upload a large database of information into WordPress – AND – allowing me to upload it again and overwriting/updating information.  Some plugins that I have found MAY do the trick, but I am not interested in purchasing a script that will become useless immediately… but perhaps I should.  Suggestions?

So, How do I Choose?

Up to this point I have wasted a lot of time thinking about which way to go.  Until I find a plugin that can handle entering new ‘posts’ and categories – then being able to update those ‘posts’ again just by uploading the database, I am going to do it like this:

1. Is the database big, like 50 or more records?
2. Is the data in this database going to change regularly?
3.  Is this the kind of database that I can ‘drip post’ in over time?

If the answers are yes, yes, no – then I am going to write my own scripts.  If the answers are no, no, yes – it is WordPress all the way.  If the answers are yes, no, maybe – then I am back at the crossroads.

Why Don’t I Write the Plugin Myself?

There is the big problem.  I ‘barely’ know PERL.  I can just scratch an itch of PHP.  WordPress is PHP.  In order to write a plugin, I am going to have to learn PHP.  Right now I am just too busy.  PERL is still very powerful and still widely supported.  PHP is going to overtake PERL if it hasn’t already.

I am sure that someone has already written the perfect CSV or Text file to WordPress plugin.  I have seen a few that I have tried and can’t get to work the way I want them to.  And I am also sure that someone has privately built one and is using it to make a killing.

Drop me a lead and I will follow it to find out how well it works… and promote the plugin if it does what I need.

Why I Use Dreamhost

I have been using Dreamhost as my main hosting provider for over since the fall of 2006.  This was shortly after they had some major outages.  The problems were fixed and they were very transparent about the issues.

Doesn’t that seem risky?

Well ok, maybe.  But I planned to move a couple domains over to Dreamhost, see how it went and make my decision from there.

Why was I looking for a new provider?

The current hosting provider I had at the time was more expensive than other similar hosts out there.  I still use them for a couple of sites, since their uptime has been excellent, but as I planned to build more sites, I could not afford a set price per domain.  Dreamhost offers multiple domains – as long as you are within your alloted space and traffic restrictions.

So what are the restrictions?

Well – when I signed up, I got 4,000 Gig of bandwidth [traffic] and 250 Gig of disk space.  It grows each week – and I barely scratch 1% of my available resources.  [I don’t build huge sites…]

Now – They have unlimited bandwidth and disk space for $8.95/month – and unlimited domains.  I recommend that you check Dreamhost out.

Other ‘ease of use’ benefits

Most hosting providers offer some type of installation services.  Dreamhost offers a 1 Click Install for quite a few open source programs, including WordPress.  Since WordPress is my current choice of software, this is a great benefit.  Install once, then everything else from within the WordPress site.  Excellent!

My Latest Experience

Just yesterday (which is what finally prompted me to write this) – I upgraded a site for a customer… WITHOUT HEEDING THE WARNINGS about backing up your site before upgrading.  Well, yep, I overwrote the wrong files.

Dreamhost has automatic backups (like all other hosting companies) – but, without cost, I was able to restore my latest backup, right overtop of the mistake.  Within 10 minutes, the site was back online and my client never knew that anything had even gone wrong.  Save my butt?  You betcha!

If you are looking, you should check out Dreamhost.

WP Standard Plugins

Whatdo I consider Standard Plugins?

For me – these standard plugins are the WordPress plugins that I use on almost ALL of the sites that I create.  I can’t say that each one goes on all sites, but you would find the majority there.  Why – because these plugins give ‘something’ that can help me with all the sites that I create, for myself, or for clients.

If you want to know what is driving visitors to your site, or help yourself out with administration, these are great plugins.

NOTE:  Last Updated on September 6th, 2009 – I will re-post an update time when I add/update/remove plugins, although I may not mention what was changed.

By the way – I don’t link to these plugins, because you can install them from your WordPress dashboard and get the most up to date version (plus a little oversight on developers) since it is located in the repository.

WP Plugin [Standard] List

  • Aksimet – from Automattic, the makers of WordPress.  This adequately eliminates spam from my websites.  I have much less to handle.  There is nothing more I can say about spam elimination.  A few comments will slip in that don’t belong in the comments, but since I don’t have to spend hours, the occasional errant comment is no problem.
  • All in One SEO Pack – Out-of-the-box SEO for your WordPress blog.  This plugin is consistently being developed.  It gives you excellent control of keywords, titles, meta-tags and more.
  • Full Comments on Dashboard – simple, it shows the full comment on your WP Dashboard.  I hated having to click through to a comment to read the whole thing, when I have the ability to approve it right there.  Imagine this scenario, a spammer can realize that MOST web administrators approve comments from the dashboard – especially if they are a large blog with many comments.  So, write a good comment – until you hit the character count, then add your spammy links… webmasters are bound to approve a few of these, right?
  • Google XML Sitemaps – within a day of creating a new site, you can see your latest article(s) in the search results.  And – driving traffic already.  That is proof enough.
  • WordPress Database Backup – We all know that we should.  Most of us don’t.  Plenty of us lose entire bodies of work.  This plugin makes it simple and automatic – right to your email.  Every site, every time.

That is my current list.  Got suggestions? Something I might like?