Vacuum Diagrams

Random thoughts about nothing in particular

Aug 13, 2007 - PHP

Wordpress or Serendipity?

Recently when I moved this domain away from TYPO3, I wanted to use it for a blog. I thought I had already decided on the engine to use, but various factors left me mulling for weeks on the final decision.

Until a few months ago, I had to maintain a multi user blogging system based on Serendipity. I actually wrote a one click installer for this purpose, but that’s another story. Though I was never a user of the software, I was impressed with the code quality and did not look much beyond Serendipity at the beginning. However, I decided to install WordPress as well for a comparison. Though there are comparisons available, I found that all of them were written from very different perspectives and did not address my needs from the software.


Though not difficult to install, the Serendipity installer does have a lot of options. The installer also checks the environment for dependencies and might ask you to install required components. While I find these very useful, I can understand if it can be overload for somebody without a background in similar applications. On the other hand, WordPress asks you almost nothing and can be installed with only a couple of clicks. Right from this level, WordPress gives you the impression that it is targeting a completely different user base than Serendipity.


I did not miss any desired feature in the two. However, Serendipity does seem to have superior plugin and media management systems. WordPress has a sidebar mechanism where you can drag and drop widgets, but at the time of writing this feature is very new and not supported by many available themes. All Serendipity templates I have seen support this feature. Serendipity usually contains a myriad of options in every page whereas WordPress tries to break the forms into different tabbed areas whenever possible. WordPress is also characterized by big buttons and form fields which are supposedly more usable. Though I am not sure how much that relates to features, the Serendipity codebase does seem to be very well thought out. WordPress has improved since I last tried it out a year ago, but parts of the code can still be difficult to follow. Clean design and code does help in avoiding bugs and security holes to some extent.

Theme availability and quality

WordPress is way ahead of Serendipity here. It has a large theme developer community which produces all manner of free and commercial themes. Serendipity does offer more built in templates. However, I could not find anything that I liked enough. I tried mashing a couple of designs for use with Serendipity and despite the sparse documentation, I managed to create a theme. However, I am aesthetically impaired and the result looked mismatched enough that I threw it away. The decision was also helped by the fact that I could download for free (or purchase) some excellent WordPress themes for a fraction of the effort.

In the end, I chose WordPress simply for the last reason. But this is not a criticism of Serendipity. If I have to install or manage a blogging system, I will choose Serendipity in a heartbeat. And maybe one day, I will be able to put together a decent template myself and use Serendipity for my own blog as well.

Free Serendipity themes

Dave’s Serendipity themes – One of the few template resources for Serendipity

Free WordPress themes

Theme Viewer – Large number of templates (maybe too large)

83 Beautiful WordPress Themes You (Probably) Haven’t Seen – More of a list of templates from different sites, but you can preview them in one place – Only two themes, but both very unique

Free templates

Six Shooter Media – A small collection, but all of them very good

Free Website Templates – Large collection of excellent templates

Free Web Templates – Primarily hosts templates from other sites, a great way to view them in a single place

Edit: Recently, I found that not only there is another blog (seemingly inactive) with the same title, it has a 2 year old entry on a similar subject as well that still turns up in Google searches. Talk about coincidences 😃.