Pains of progress

Last year I wrote: “wikis, blogs, forums and community software [seem to] have all the potential to supplant CMSes, at least in the non-commercial space [and] by doing so, they bring the possibility to the websurfer to edit the pages he visits, thereby fulfilling the last unfulfilled promise of the web.”

Well, I don’t know about that, but they sure are useful! Reusability of code is a great thing. Lately I have been running into the other side of the medal.

For instance, I read that the software running this here blog is made by Evil folks. The more painful since I have been sitting on a number of bug reports and suggestions for improvement (that I was going to follow up with patches hopefully); now I don’t know what to do with them. And recommending WordPress to other people (which I have done in the past) is now out of the question too. Which is a pity, because there is nothing wrong with the software itself.

A forum that I have installed on at least four sites has been bugged by virusses that use Google to find their victims. I have had to update twice, on each of the sites. Installing phpBB is so trivial that it takes less than five minutes, and my customers have been charged accordingly. However, updating the often modified forums takes a lot more. It’s not just a matter of uploading the files that were changed, but I need to make sure I did not change these files myself: those changes may be lost if I overwrite them with the security update’s changes.

I have also started selling the service of installing, configuring and customising Mambo CMS, and I cannot begin to imagine the sort of headaches that is going to give me.

Of course, this is all the logical consequence of doing business; I changed my business model, and it was a good and smart change, but I did not foresee all the consequences.

As a practical matter I need to start thinking about how I am going to deal with these contingencies in the future. How am I going to make sure I need not overwrite my own customizations with security updates? How am I going to deal with dealers who turned out to be untrustworthy?

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