Last year, I wrote two articles (Blogger’s Gear 1 & 2) featuring some of the most outstanding blog platforms/apps. But a lot of changes came to blogosphere since then, some of those tools grew bolder and some of those lost in thin air. Not only that, we were presented with a lot more new tools/apps for blogging. So I decided to give a blogging tools roundup which are available now not used to be available last year. You can say revision with amendment and affix.
As you can feel, it’s not possible to cover all those outstanding apps/platforms in a single blog post. That’s why we will cover all those in different series (Two in each series). In this series, we will discuss free blog platforms or applications that can be self hosted (You install and manage it under your own hosting).
(This list is unordered, so instead of following the serials, you should compare features to find out which suits your needs best.)
Licence: GNU General Public License (GNU GPL)
Platform and database: PHP 4.2+ & MySQL 4.0+
Supported OS: Cross platform
Maintained by: Automatic
Though WordPress (WP) 1.0, the first release was just a PHP based blog publishing platform, but ever since, WP with every new release is becoming more and fuller scale content management system. But of course, WP developers didn’t slip away from improving blog publishing improvements. Just like I said last year, WordPress is still one of the best blog publishing apps. you can find, and it won’t cost you a penny. Search engine friendly permalink structure, built-in typographic filters for proper formatting and styling of text, integrated link management, static pages, multi-author support, etc. make it more than just desirable for blog publishing. In 2004, the licensing terms for the competing Movable Type package was changed by Six Apart, and many of its users migrated to WordPress – causing a marked and continuing, growth in WordPress’s popularity.
Pros: WP generates W3C standards-compliant XML, XHTML, and CSS; but of course if you aren’t using a theme/plug-in that screw things up. WP is backed by huge developer community, who constantly producing add-ons, themes, plug-ins, and modifications to keep it up-to-date and secure. There are very few blog publishing apps that have this huge array of support community.
Internationalization support, automated trackback and pingback, cross platform, nested categories and multiple categories for articles, highly flexible and easy to use features are simply irresistible. Every blogger crave for WP features like integrated spell check and auto save (WP 2.1+), built-in widget support for templates and speed optimizations (WP 2.2+). WordPress is truly a state of the art blog publishing platform that can be bent and twisted into any shape/type/form you wish with tons of features. Decided to move your blog to WordPress, no fear of losing the old content since WP got it all covered for you with ability to import post from Blogger(Google), Dotclear, Blogware, GreyMatter, LiveJournal, Movabletype, TypePad, Textpattern, RSS feed as well as from other WordPress blog.
Cons: Since PHP is the core (Engine) of the WordPress, if not well maintained/managed the blog can be easily target of PHP exploits. Well, that’s not just for WP; any PHP based application has this vulnerability. WordPress isn’t crystal clear, there are bugs and usability issues popped up every now and then, but thankfully, the developer community are constantly engaging to resolve those.
Improvement: There are rooms for improvements such as: easy update system (for novice WP upgrade can be nightmare, though some hosting provides one click upgrades/installation system), plug-in update/incompatibility alert, batch post/category management (there is a plug-in that do batch category management), better thumbnail/image editing and management, built in local tagging (not technorati or other), local feed stats (usually people burn their main feed to Feedburner or other such services to get stats).
Licence: open source (MIT License)
Platform and database: Ruby on Rails & Mysql, Sqlite, and PostgreSQL
Supported OS: Cross platform
Maintained by: Typo developers
Typo, which was introduced in March 2005, is a blogging engine written in the Ruby programming language, using the Ruby on Rails web application framework. Typo can use any of the various SQL databases supported by the Ruby on Rails framework. Typo, the name might sound a bit funky, but there is nothing funky about the job it can do. Though relatively less buzzed in blog publishing arena, but recent development makes it valuable candidate for personal blog publishing platform. Lightweight, blazing speed, full text search with live preview, W3C compliant XML generation is just few of its long list of perks.
Pros: Fully Ajax based search, commenting, and moderation. Built in spam protection is an extra feature that is very important nowadays. Textile and Markdown and Smartypants support, full text search with live preview, tag style categories; easy permalink structure will definitely draw your attention to Typo. TadaList, del.icio.us, Flickr, 43 Things, and Upcoming.org syndication are built right into it, so no worrying about widgets to get those popular sharing features. They do have migration scripts to import posts from other blog platforms, though not so updated. Traditional web based blog administration and posting style, pingback/trackback, RSS2 and Atom feeds for post, comment as well as trackback isn’t absent either. I can see an experimental podcast support too.
Cons: Installation procedure isn’t suitable for beginners, experts help recommended. Few outstanding bugs regarding sidebar have been reported. Poor plug-in library reminds me the bald head of my principal.
Improvements: Typo attracted me with its blazing speed and simple administration, but I do believe there are lot to be done in order to be standout among all other blog publishing platforms. Improvements like-better documentation, extended installation guide (both graphical & text), classification of coding for better understanding thus increasing community support.