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avoiding the task of downloading WordPress, installing it on a server, and making sure
that it all works. The advantage is ease in getting started and reduced maintenance over
time, and the disadvantage is lack of control. When you set up your own copy of
WordPress, you can install your own themes and plug-ins, or even modify WordPress
itself if you need to. Using the version of WordPress provided by WordPress.com elimi-
nates some of that flexibility.
The other major trend in web development is sites making it easy to use content from
websites on other websites. In Lesson 12, “Integrating Multimedia: Sound, Video, and
More,” you learned how to upload videos to YouTube and then embed those videos in
your own pages. Doing so enables you to avoid the hassle of encoding video yourself,
renting space to put the videos online, and providing a player that works in every popular
browser. Allowing this kind of flexibility is becoming increasingly common. So, rather
than going out and finding one tool that gives you all the features you require, you can
mix and match tools as needed to offer your users exactly the kind of experience you
By combining services that provide content management, user community features, and
multimedia hosting, you can offer your users capabilities that, not too long ago, would
have been completely out of reach for the individual web publisher. Right now, in an
afternoon, you can create a new blog on WordPress.com, populate it with videos hosted
on Vimeo, and allow your users to discuss the videos using a third-party comments tool
like Disqus (http://disqus.com/).
It might seem odd to talk about using an application to manage your content now after
you've worked through 21 lessons explaining how to build web pages from scratch.
However, those skills will serve you well whether you use a content management system
or not. Content management systems can take a lot of drudgery out of web publishing
without limiting the amount of creativity you can apply in designing your web pages.
Some work is involved in learning, setting up, and customizing a content management
system. When you're creating a website, it's probably easier to start with just a few static
files and leave aside the content management system. As your site gets bigger, though, at
some point the work involved with dealing with static files offsets the initial investment
required to start working with a content management system. You have to figure out
whether that initial time investment will be worth the effort.
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