In 2006, SimplePHPBlog (SPB) was a simple blog engine that stored the contents of a post in text files. At the time WordPress was already one of the most used blog engines. I was starting my first year at the university and I wanted something I could host on a free shared web hosting, easy to customize and with a database that was accessible and easy to backup. For me, SPB at the time checked all the items on this list, and there was a growing community of enthusiasts that provided plugins and themes.
SPB’s simplicity was one of the reasons why it attracted a lot of fans; an international community quickly grew, and from that, a smaller Italian community (SPBItalia) was born too. These communities developed mods and code extensions to customize SPB for their needs. However, the simplicity of its codebase at some point showed its limits. A heavily customized installation of SPB could diverge a lot from the main development line, leaving users with an old, unmaintained, possibly insecure version.
A more modular design could have helped. What makes WordPress great today was the same thing that made it great back in those days: a powerful plug-in API, a theming system, and a vast community that contributed lots of useful plugins and themes, making it easy to customize it, while allowing users to keep up with platform updates.
Luciano Porro (@drudo) founded the SPBItalia forums and developed many themes; Samanta Grasso (SamyWeb) became a moderator shortly after: she was one of the most productive modders and themers in the SPB community. We all met virtually on those forums, and, together, we decided we could do something more.
We released the first FlatPress version on April 15th, 2006. A lot of time has passed since then. I no longer do web development, and a lot of people, especially developers, are now using static website generators instead of dynamic scripting-based blogs. Yet, today marks 15 years from the date, and, to my great surprise, the project is still alive and kicking. This is why, in 2019, I handed over the project to another brave member of the community, Arvid, who is now leading all the future developments of the project.
I still remember fondly those days. Even though I have moved on to different projects, FlatPress has been an important part of my life as a developer.
So, here’s one to you, FlatPress! And, as we say here in Italy: cento di questi giorni!