I used to consider myself a Type A personality, but I really don’t think that fits any more. I tend to be very detail oriented though, I try to be concise; sometimes to a fault; organized and very thorough. Why am I bringing this up? Because (in general) these are all things that Open Source files and applications are not.
This is a small example I know, but this is what sparked it. I decided to apply a new template to my other blog, DeliverMyLiver.com, and since I am addicted to WordPress – this is a decidedly easy task to accomplish. However, once I decided on the template and started to dive into it, I discovered that it was going to take longer than what I was hoping.
Overall the template ( Citrus ) is well designed and assembled, what always gets me are the details. Take the CSS files for example, in general 60 – 80% of the CSS is static, and only the remaining smaller percentage changes by user selection. So then why are all the templates not identical? Or even better, why isn’t there a central CSS doc to govern the static styles, and 4 smaller ones to govern the variable styles? This would make the most sense from an upkeep stand point. The formating of the CSS is all over the place, and the actual HTML of the template is not 100% correct either, there are missing closing tags on lists, divs, and probably others I haven’t found.
Overall, still not a huge deal, and maybe I am just too picky. It’s just that if I were to make a template and put my name on it from scratch – I would want people to know that I know what I am doing, not just hacking something together in a half assed sort of way. I’m not a half assed sort of guy, so cutting corners like that, to me, is simply lazy development. And it’s this attitude that can overall hurt the Open Source community and give it a bad rep to folks who don’t really know better. It’s so easy to write a piece of crap and get it out there for folks to use now, that just about anyone can do it. Unfortunately there is really no way to discern the good from the bad without jumping into it. Community reviews go a long way, but they are not always that helpful.
Never build what you can download.
Open Source is a great resource, and there are plenty of great applications out there that you can use right out of the can, or download the source files to customize – so in lots of cases it makes good sense to spend a couple of weeks finding applications/scripts/widgets to do the job of what you are looking for. In this case it’s just a design template for a blog – that doesn’t make it any less important to me, and it’s always a bit discouraging when you find something you like, just to discover it’s going to take more time than you thought to implement because you have to go back and clean things up, and standardize the way it works to be consistent and correct.
Maybe I will have to start building my own templates from scratch, but if I am being honest – it’s not worth the time. There are so many templates; good templates available that why would I bother? It’s not really that big of a pain in the arse, it’s just annoying. I run into it a lot, and it drives me crazy. But since I am on my way to crazy already, it truly makes little difference.