I consider myself fairly experienced with customizing and tweaking PERL forum scripts, but admittedly this is my first attempt at customizing anything PHP. I thinking about running (not walking) back to PERL. I have looked into PHP forums previously, but their customization also seemed way too limited over the pretty much menu driven customization of CGI/PERL forums.
After several days of trying to just modify other custom templates and styles (gave up on creating my own from scratch after hour one!), I have to say that this is just way too difficult for anyone who does not have significant coding experience specifically with WordPress. Am I missing something or is there just no documentation for this that is organized in a single place rather than spread out throughout a forum of thousands of messages? Does someone wanting to customize WordPress really have to get into PHP so much? Has anyone created something menu driven or WYSIWYG? It just seems like it doesn't need to be this difficult -- the PERL stuff I've been using for years is far more simple and easier to customize (even from day one with my experiences with PERL scripts). I was able to just dive right into PERL scripts, quickly and easily figuring out customizations, tweaking, formats, etc.
I realize I probably sound like a frustrated and pathetic newbie, but there's got to be a better way to allow for customization other than 20 hours of college level instruction on PHP and CSS. Is this the way all PHP stuff is? I have not really found any significant advantages of using PHP over CGI/PERL. Is there enough of an advantage or benefit with PHP that I should stick this out and see if I'm eventually hit with a dawn of realization (after a couple of weeks or so of banging my head agains the wall)?
Thanks for any input/feedback. Sorry to sound so frustrated, but I believe I'm mainly disappointed. So many people seem to be going with PHP over CGI/PERL these days, but after this mostly first experience, I really don't know why.