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Op-Ed: Hey WordPress and Microsoft! Download? What download? Special

By Paul Wallis     Nov 17, 2011 in Internet
Sydney - This isn’t an anti-Word Press or anti-Microsoft rant. I’ve worked on many sites with WordPress, and compared to some of its competitors, it’s a dream. The trouble was with a hideously complicated DIY download involving Microsoft software.
WordPress is quite understandably one of the world’s most efficient and effective blogging software packages. Unlike others, it works, doesn’t sabotage fonts and doc layout and is easy enough to handle. I’ve got a few reservations about blogging software as a whole, but my expectations are basic. I’m a content producer, not an administrator by nature, although I have done some site admin work. I don’t really give a damn about the finer points of the software, as long as it works.
Please note: The idea was to download WordPress to manage some formatting issues for uploads to a site. I thought I could simply do the articles in the required format, and save some work at both ends. I also thought I'd get a working WordPress for my own use. I thought, in effect, I was downloading a simple blogging program. I wasn't.
Download… I get a zip file. Not an exe or something simple, a zip file. There are pages and pages on the WordPress site about their famous 5 minute installation, “Feel like a rock star”, says the home page blurb, and that’s quite accurate in this case. Like you’re jetlagged, food poisoned, and in some of the less enchanting phases of advanced alcoholism was exactly how I felt. The WordPress pages include a range of configuration information which must have the HTML addicts drooling, but left me wishing that it had occurred to someone to write in plain English.
It must be 20 years since I’ve seen so much of this stuff in one place. Much as I can sympathize with the desire of code writers to be appreciated and understood, may I suggest a nice meal or a walk instead? This is very claustrophobic stuff for those of us who tend to think you click on things and that things therefore happen.
I couldn’t care less about a MySQL database. I know why it’s needed, I can understand the principles, and the idea was that I was going to simply do some articles on WordPress for formatting purposes for my work, not direct site work. I didn’t want to do a course in MySQL, or anything else.
Couldn’t follow the logic, let alone the steps, on these pages, so off to an alternative page on the WordPress site, where there’s a simple download, and a link to Microsoft for a thing called a Web Platform Installer. This thing chugged along, sometimes at a dazzling 56 kbps for quite a while, then informed me it couldn’t install. OK, very probably my fault, why I’m still guessing, but that was that.
The Windows Platform Installer, to be fair, is an all-purpose thing. This thing does have a lot of operational features. After the thing had used up about 45 minutes and failed to install, on the Control Panel I discovered a range of files including Visual C++ and other files.
Could I uninstall them as a group? No way. Each file had to be laboriously OK’d through security, and one of them required a reboot to remove. I also nearly uninstalled a very useful program, but fortunately the Microsoft uninstaller for this software warned me I was about to crash my internet functions if I did.
1. Can you lose this damn range of multiple steps? My perspective is based on production needs. Time is more than money; it’s aggravation about things not happening properly. I do around 4000 words of SEO per day. I need to know things are getting done, and that I might even get some sleep.
2. Nobody on Earth has the time for this mini-world tour. There has to be some way of doing a simple exe download. The “all things shall be zipped” approach really is a nuisance. Some sites even automatically read docx files as zip files. It’s debatable whether there’s any need for the stuff about servers, hosting, etc. Every site on Earth can run WordPress. Also strongly suggest a standard notation on the download page which says “check with your site host” as a good failsafe to ensure easy installation.
3. The other side of the issue is a marketing perspective. The typical, and usually correct marketing view is that the more complex something looks, the less appealing it becomes. There’s so much information on the site that the natural impression is that it’s extremely complicated. I know WordPress is overall a good platform. I know how to use it online, and have been using it for years. What I don’t know is why I need an IT degree and perhaps a greatly reduced social life to install it.
4. What's wrong with the idea of simply downloading basic WordPress functions for use online? It's easier to work on multiple sites with built-in Word Press formatting.
5. WordPress still doesn't take Word pastes without creating text issues. Why not? It'd be a lot simpler. Standard fonts have their formatting built in. Just pick a few fonts, and run with that.
1. I’m prepared to put the Windows Platform Installer down to experience and my lack of familiarity with it. What gets on my nerves is the range of possible issues related to removing these very bitsy packages. By rights, there’s no particular need to separate these downloaded files, (another good reason for getting rid of the "zip everything" ideology) and the fact that I didn’t realize until I was right in the middle of the uninstalls that I was also looking at other Visual C++ files I needed right next to the ones I was trying to delete.
2. The risks are obvious. A bit of thoughtful uninstalling can trash some things very effectively, in this file by file format. Can we have a bit of idiot-proofing for these situations, because it only takes a few misguided clicks to do some real damage that may take days to understand and fix?
Writers and content producers:
As mentioned, this isn’t an anti-WordPress thing. Some advice:
1. I went through this ordeal mainly because I was trying to do a standalone WordPress download for my own use, independent of a specific site and host. Your site host may well have a ready to use WordPress download which automatically installs and configures. Check that first, before attempting a DIY download.
2. If you’re using the Windows Platform Installer, it can be confronting, particularly when you get to the multiple passwords and administrator stuff. Get help if you’re having trouble.
3. Please note that I’m not excusing myself from various forms of ignorance. Very strongly suggest checking anything you don’t understand carefully before proceeding, because you can use up a lot of time if you get things wrong.
4. Glitches with other programs can also be a problem if you’ve installed or uninstalled some types of software. If you’re having trouble with Word, IE or other programs, hit Reset before you start worrying unnecessarily.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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