WordPress vs. Bloat. Introducing Habari.

I have been using WordPress for around 4 years now and all in all it has been a fun ride but time has come for a change in my quest to simplify life, to refocus on blogging.

Focus on content and not how great and powerful a platform is or how I can play with the header image in every post. Refocus on content. Cut out the bloat. I love WordPress but the platform, a very powerful option which everyone should consider in their quest to run a blog, has grown beyond my personal needs.

What I want here for iFranky is a blog; I don’t need a full-blown CMS.

It’s An Ongoing Fight

This is nothing new and last year two years ago already I tried another platform, Chyrp, here on iFranky. With the impending merge of WPMU and WordPress for the 3.0 version, I feel that my time has come and after the redesign of iFranky to a single column design it is time to simplify the backend as well.

Introducing Habari

In one of my first ever entries on BloggingPro I reviewed self hosted blogging options and included Habari among the platforms, saying the following:

…is one of the blog platforms to watch. Started by some of the core members of the k2 theme for WordPress, the idea behind Habari is simple: a blog platform with the most cutting edge technology.


  • Cutting edge technology, PHP5.2 required;
  • Support for both MySQL and SQLite (PostgreSQL support is planned);
  • Apache 2.0 license, following the meritocracy principles;
  • Support for Apache, Lighttp and Nginx server;
  • Respected and blog experienced core developers.


  • Very young community and software, only few themes and plugins available;
  • Apache 2.0 license: sometimes discussion, decision can take ages.

Distraction Free Environment

I usually do most of my writing for shorter entries in the WordPress editor and for longer posts I tend to use WriteRoom(1). Habari itself though makes writing in the post editor a lot more enjoyable and although the full screen experience isn’t reached Habari does a great job at keeping the environment distraction free.

The whole admin interface, experience is totally different. After the creation of Kubrick, co-creation of the marvellous k2 theme for WordPress, which certainly served as inspiration for the Kirby theme for WordPress, a concept for a WordPress 2010 default theme, the Habari interface is another gorgeous creation by Michael Heilemann. You should try it out yourself and give the Habari demo a test run here.

I Love WordPress

My love for WordPress as a software blog package will continue. In fact, expect many more WordPress tutorials from me over at BloggingPro in the next few weeks, but there is no doubt that I will also pay more attention to other platforms at BloggingPro. It will be an uphill battle but it’s a challenge I gladly take on.
The beauty of blogging is to have many options available and it is the task of a general blog news site to report about as many platforms as available.

Personally though I have no need for all the features offered by WordPress and both iFranky and frankylicious will be converted to Habari over the next weeks. This is no decision against WordPress, this is opting for the best platform for the job, the best platform for my needs.

I will also port Notesblog by Thord to Habari.

  1. I recently discovered Scrivener as the ultimate software for longer features and to work at drafts of future entries. Entries requiring lots of research ()
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  • Your just going through a phase right now, you’ll be coming back to WP… :)

    • No, not this site. This blog is very low profile and only has basic needs. I love WordPress but it is way too powerful for what I need for this site. Of course I will continue to make use of WordPress on a daily base and I will continue to use the platform for clients as well. But every site has its own specifics and they all can lead to a different platform being better for that site.

      For many sites, WordPress is a great solution, for other Expression Engine might be more appropriate. For ifranky, Habari is the preferred (optimal?) option.

  • I couldn’t agree more; particularly regarding the ‘Distraction Free Environment’. I just think the Habari post editor is a thing of great beauty.

  • Tsalagi

    I’ve been learning WordPress as a catalyst to learning PHP. WordPress is very confusing when it comes to working with all of the Globals and ways to produce loops. The Codex sometimes doesn’t mesh with the way users and tutorials suggest implementing some of the code. Do you think that working with Habari will hasten my study of PHP?

    In your article you state that one of the cons of Habari is “Apache 2.0 license: sometimes discussion, decision can take ages”. What does that mean?

    Thanks for the review

    • Tsalagi, sorry for the late reply somehow I did not receive a notification. The coding standards of Habari certainly are higher and the focus of Habari is to provide more bleeding edge support, so if you want to learn the latest, that’s where you have to be.

      As for the license, it’s more than just the license. Habari is truly community decided. This sometimes takes a while and decisions could sometimes be made faster (but then the platform would not be community driven).

  • Peter

    Can’t wait for the Notesblog for Habari port …

    • Peter, porting Notesblog will be the first thing I do as soon as I’ve switched.

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  • Phoebe Clarke

    WordPress is the best blogging platform ever. It is much better than Typepad and blogspot.-.-

  • I stuck it out with a self-hosted (Classic) Blogger blog for a long time because i had found a theme that I liked well enough and had tweaked extensively. The biggest dra was that it was a single column, with all of the focus being placed on my non-monetized, non-widgetized, content.

    Blogger forced my hand this month when they killed off the FTP publishing option, so I’ve migrated over to WordPress, but I’m still working hard to ensure that the content isn’t overpowered by all of the template fluff that pervades so many WP blogs.

    I’ll grant you that WordPress may be overkill, but after years of being boxed in (due to my self-hosting choice) with Blogger, I’m sure appreciating the flexibility of the platform.

    • Rob, I hear you. I myself made the switch from Blogger to WordPress early 2006. Before blogging I had mainly been working with ‘full blown CMS’ systems and both Blogger and WordPress were a very refreshing thing for me. I love WordPress and make a living from sites all using WP.

      The main rule though is: what is the most appropriate platform for what needs. Due to time constraints I still have not been able to switch and one might not notice it but this site has a rather complex setup, thanks to WordPress’ flexibility and awesome possibilities: the home page has 3 different loops and two excluded categories, one of these categories is displayed differently and then there’s the footer block setup. I know how to do it with other platforms but with WordPress it was really simple (admitted I’ve been using WP for years now).

      Until I find time to switch, I am happy to use the Zen plugin for WordPress and enjoy little to no noise while writing. And I feel good to have inspired the plugin author, even if probably less than 1%,

  • Yes, I have used this software too, and it works pretty well for me. I think you will find getting rid of wordpress was one of the best things you’ve ever done!

  • Kapea

    If your looking fir a fully flexible blog try squarespace. You can try it free for 14 days without having to enter credit card of all it will import all your posts fir this blog.

  • I used WordPress for some time and I have recently switched to Tumblr. WordPress was impossible to customize because of the million features I would never use and the one hundred I don’t even understand.

    • Hi Eric, I never really managed to switch, also due to a server move and incompatibility with Habari, but I truly agree with your analysis of WordPress.

      I like Tumblr but I can not convince myself to not self-host my platform.

  • A distraction free environment was added to WordPress just for you!

    • Thanks, Lloyd. I love the new distraction free writing environment. It is a huge improvement and allows users to continue using the awesome power of WordPress, without getting distracted. Great work and an absolutely awesome addition to WordPress.

      Zen was a great plugin, as I wrote extensively about on BloggingPro.

      The new WP distraction free writing environment is an absolute killer!