Websynthesis – Coppyblogger steps into WordPress only Hosting

Oh Irony 1

Just while I’m in the middle of the (too lengthy) process of deciding whether to stay with VPS.net or change hosting provider again and even go to a dedicated WordPress hosting outfit, I see a pre-battle tweet by Brian Clark AKA Copyblogger that nobody has done it right so far. When someone asks him whether he had looked into WPEngine he answered:

Yes, we decided to roll out our own Websyntesis. Apart from WordPress itself, this is the third dedicated WordPress only hoster after Page.ly and WPEngine I’m aware of.

Oh Irony 2: Copyblogger is a former Thesis partner – hence the name?

Last year there was much ado about Matt Mullenweg threatening to sue Chris Pearson of Thesis with respect to the theme’s GPL compliance. I started my post with:

Yesterday I opened my dashboard and noticed syn-thesis-1 by Matt Mullenweg in a window

While this was going on Chris Pearon and Brian Clark split up their partnership and Brian gave an interview to Technosailer about this split up. Guess what? Technosailor is one of the guys behind WPEngine.[Oh Irony update: I found out Technosailor stepped down first and left WP Engine entirely later]

Afterward Copyblogger teamed up with Genesis od Studiopress, a WordPress theme framework developping community.

Oh Irony 3: Chris Pearson is on VPS.net

He seems decently served by VPS.net. However I’m not sure anymore he’s still there.

Oh Irony 4: Woothemes is also on VPS.net

Next to Genesis and Thesis Woothemes is the third big WordPress theme developper and also they are seemingly served well by VPS.net..

Preliminary thoughts

  • You can only host at Websyntesis if you use the Genesis theme. Not for me for the moment.
  • Theme wars just one step further…As Chris has promised his version 2.0 for over a year now without delivering…this might be an inducement to step away from Thesis.
  • Brian claims the cemetery of WordPress blogs with hosting issues is only due to wrong theme coding..I really doubt this, because I’ve experienced strange things with later versions of WordPress after 2.8. It could be in the WordPress core coding as well IMHO.
  • It’s about time for a European counter intitiative in dedicated WordPress hosting.


And I just discovered another US based WordPress only hosting party: Zippykid

Last edited by GJE on January 5, 2012 at 11:07 pm

The “Karate Kids” – Chris Pearson (Thesis) vs Matt Mullenweg (WordPress): 0-1 So Far

Picture by Daniel Larusso

Beware! This might be time consuming!

Yesterday I opened my dashboard and noticed syn-thesis-1 by Matt Mullenweg in a window – It’s a prerogative of some WordPress developers to have their posts in one of the WordPress dashboard windows.

Matt Mullenweg (@PhotoMatt) is the guy behind WordPress, the blogging platform software I use here.

Chris Pearson (@Pearsonified) is the guy behind the Thesis Theme that I use here.

Matt was referring to an audio stream of nearly an hour, kindly put together by Mixergy who tried to bring the two closer together.

To get a bit perspective and background you could consider to look at this interview of Chris by Mixergy (@AndrewWarner).

There is another connected read in a post #thesiswp by Jane Wells @Janeforshort, an Automattic member.

You can reed Tweets about it in the #thesiswp stream.

Chris “addressed” the matter without going into details of the dispute itself in an earlier post Solutions and Ideology

Unfortunately in the audio stream neither party clearly stipulates the issue.

What’s it all about?

WordPress is bound by the GNU GPL License.

Jane explained the issue to me in the comments to her post:

The uber-simple version: the WordPress license states that derivative code (based on WordPress, using WordPress core functions, etc) inherits the GPL license and must retain the user freedoms that the WordPress license guarantees. Chris uses WordPress code (in some cases directly copied and pasted from WordPress core), but is not following the rule of the WordPress license, and is instead releasing his Thesis theme under a restrictive license, which takes away the user freedoms that the WordPress license exists to guarantee. Basically, developing on WordPress has one rule by the license agreement: you can take our code for free and build on it, but any work that comes out of that and is publicly distributed must be made available for modification and redistribution just like WordPress itself. Chris doesn’t like that rule because the second part of it would allow other people to build on his work, and he doesn’t want them to be able to. So he takes advantage of the first part of the rule, and violates the second.

It is not about the money

Jane further explained:

As has been stated many times (and is in the license itself), the GPL issue comes into play with public distribution. If you create a theme for your own use and don’t distribute it at all, license isn’t an issue. If you create a work for hire for a client you should deliver the source code to them (which you do when you deliver the theme), but you do not need to append a license to it b/c you are simply delivering work for hire. Only when you engage in public distribution (make it available publicly via the web or other delivery mechanism, whether paid or free) do you need to think about the license. At that point, yes, your PHP theme code needs to be GPL, but you can license your images and CSS under whatever license you like in order to protect the intellectual property of your designs.

Why 0-1?

Listening through the audio interview with Matt I concluded Chris was angry. He wasn’t drunk as he stated somewhere on Twitter. He shouldn’t have been angry. By loosing his temper he lost it. He clearly didn’t make a cohesive case. The end of the story is that he dared Matt to sue him. I’m not sure a judge from behind his desk would be able to solve the matter in a way the community could live with.

Matt kept his calm and announced another weapon: He offers Thesis users to buy them a GPL compliant premium theme.

I might consider to take Matt up on that offer.

On another note: Is it mere coincidence that Matt chimes in after WordPress 3.0 was released that has many features and functionalities Thesis offered long before 3.0 was launched?

The issue intrigues me from various points of view. Especially the fact that both characters are behaving more like trolls than sensible people.

I’m collecting some links here for further reading:

  • In themes are GPL too Matt posted a (part of?) a Software Freedom Law Center opinion on the matter already back in July 2009. Here he goes over the boundary in my view:
  • Even though graphics and CSS aren’t required to be GPL legally, the lack thereof is pretty limiting. Can you imagine WordPress without any CSS or javascript? So as before, we will only promote and host things on WordPress.org that are 100% GPL or compatible. To celebrate a few folks creating 100% GPL themes and providing support and other services around them, we have a new page listing GPL commercially supported themes.

  • WordPress Them Licensing by Ryan Boren (@Rboren), on the WP side
  • Thesis War summary by Ben Cook (@Skitzzo), on the Thesis side
  • A thoughtful article why the GPL does not affect a theme Why the GPL does not apply to Premium WordPress themes
  • A further collection of links on the subject: 32 WordPress Thesis and GPL links to help you formulate your own opinion
  • Matt Mullenweg Fouls his nest
  • @FrederickDing has a pleasantly insightful take on the matter in Tracking the ThesisWP matter

More to follow…

Paginator – Probably the best WordPress Page Navigation Plugin for the Thesis Theme

For me easy navigation of a blog is a very important part of blogging.

I’ve had a page navigation plugin here that showed the blog pages both before and after the posts that I have on a page or blog category. The problem with the plugin was that a newer version interfered on several levels with the blog and I had to keep an older version, but that older version also interfered with post editing. I really had to get rid of it and replace it with something else.

I’ve found another and clever way of page navigation: Not only via page numbers, but also via a scrolling slider. I thank Famous Bloggers Net for pointing me in the right direction. The plugin is the Paginator.

While using my prior pagination plugin I came to the conclusion that I used the top pagination much more frequent than the the bottom one. Other than Famous Bloggers does I would suggest to download the plugin via add a plugin in your WordPress dashboard and put the following code in the Thesis Hook Before Content:

< ?php if(function_exists ('wp_paginator')) {wp_paginator ();}?>

Don’t forget to check the “execute PHP on this hook” button.

Also don’t forget to put a number in the number of pages for the Paginator setting.

In this way you leave the Thesis navigation at the bottom in tact and you have a nifty navigation tool on top of your pages and categories.

Probably I’m the only one that uses this feature the most on this blog. I still like it, but there is one caveat. If you are monitoring broken links with Google Webmaster tools you’ll notice the typical error that each first page does not exist…

Lost under the Hood

Lost under the Hood - Tim Street / French Maid TV

Why I got lost under the hood of computers, software and camera’s the last couple of weeks which prevented me from churning out many new blog posts that I have in my sleeve:

  • I upgraded to WordPress 2.8, but had to upgrade to Thesis 1.5.1. first. I just had installed Thesis 1.5 last month on the recommendation of fellow travel bloggers Todd Lucier and Darren Cronian.
    In upgrading to Thesis 1.5,1 I lost a lot of my Thesis 1.5 settings. It seemed to be a bug somewhere, but I couldn’t pinpoint where and lost a lot of time getting the blog in order once more.
  • For future reference I’m listing some bloggers that use the Thesis Theme and give good advice on the ins and outs:
  • And Some Travel Bloggers who use Thesis:
  • I’m trying to really understand SEO for bloggers … a bit cumbersome. Time consuming reading. However i did install a robots.txt file for both my blogs and the Sitemap generator Plugin is now working correctly…
  • During a thunderstorm I closed my office server down. It had been running year after year under Novell Netware 5.
    I was prepared for this happening: A brand new server which was already loaded with Netware 6.5 stood ready for the occasion. One tiny problem: It appeared that I needed to redo the login scripting…having some special needs as I still rely on some DOS programs – not solved yet….
    Meanwhile I succeeded to lose all my Windows XP settings for e-mail, site logons and so on. Although I have reasonable backups…the backups of my settings just didn’t work. Lesson learned: Do operate as a separate user under Windows XP without administrator permissions: Once you change an XP administrator’s password (I was only hitting a password sync button in the Netware login screen that did not give the usual XP warning) all his settings are lost. Darn! A lot of time to reconnect e-mail accounts….login passwords….sites…etcetera.
  • Some hard disks are getting full. Dire need for some time consuming reshuffling
  • Next week I’ll act as a wedding photographer. While trying some lenses and new flashcards it turned out that inadvertently I had obtained not working white label flashcards for my camera’s. Yesterday was Veterans’Day in The Hague. I lost approx 180 photos I took.
  • In preparation for that same wedding shoot I’m also struggling uphill to understand PhotoShop better than I did.
  • Have had some discussions with Tripadvisor as to why some guest reviews did not appear on their site. Wanted to report about that, but didn’t have time (yet?). Why would I actually want to have any reviews there?
  • I was invited by e-mail to attend the opening of The Hermitage Openening in Amsterdam. I Filed the form they required to get a ticked, but never got the ticket…alas.
  • Then there is that discussion again about the Dying Blogs: in the Guardian by Charles Arthur by Shiny Shiny and by Copy Blogger

Deep Sigh…continuing struggling…and maybe updating this…

Last edited by Happy Hotelier on July 17, 2010 at 3:01 pm9

Thesis: A new Theme for the Blog

For those that know this site and see differences from a prior visit: Yes I have changed theme(s). From now on I am using just one theme: the thesis theme.

I am still working on getting everything in place and displayed in a way I like. But I got hooked to the theme after I got several recommendations by fellow bloggers. I just plunged ahead and installed it. The main reason for change is that I did some reading about SEO (search Engine Opimization) and installed some dedicated plugins.

I like thesis’ flexibility, professionalism and the care for SEO. I also hope it loads faster than my Misty theme did. As it is so flexible, I don’t see any need anymore to use the theme switcher. The disadvantage of a theme switcher with several themes running is that every nut and bolt you change, has to be changed on every theme separately. With three and sometimes four themes running aside, that kept me from focusing on producing content. In addition this theme is so flexible that with few alterations I can completely change the look and feel of the blog, without even losing it’s main features.

In an update of this post I will flesh out some thoughts and findings.

Update 1 May 8, 2009:
Thusfar I have paid attention to:

  • Getting a favicon.ico. Now you will see my little avatar next to the URL. Why? because I saw that many browsers that hit the site want one and get a 404 message. I discovered a nifty WordPress Plugin 404 Notifier from Alex King that logs 404 hits and put them in an RSS reader for you to check them out. Higly recommended!
  • Added avatar, background image (needs a bit of tweaking as yet), background color, played around with sizes, borders and so on to get the look and feel I’m so used to. Two columns lay out. And still a lot of scrolling. I won’t place back the header image as you get more space to read the last post.
  • Placed back the various widgets. This is done via snippets of code you can insert via text widgets. Ideally you bring all tweaks in one of two seperate files that you can carry along. But then you need a lot of special Php knowledge and that is a bit steep a learning curve yet.
  • Next steps will be either a 3 column lay out, or special pages for Archives and for Links, that will result in less scrolling.
  • As a keen photographer I will have more space for bigger photos.

Still my question remains: What are your first impressions?