Monday

Best Blogging Software



The blogging platform wars are getting really interesting and much of the
discussion I find myself in lately revolves around what is happening with
various CMS systems. The market can essentially be defined into 3 major
camps: remotely hosted, self hosted, and community based systems. I have
used pretty much every blogging platform available and each of them has its
ups and downs. In this article I will cover the best options for each area
taking into account price, usability, market share and of course SEO
potential.


All of these products are either open source, completely frëe or have a
functional frëe version.

Remotely Hosted Blogging Software

(Note: I cannot really recommend any of these from an SEO stand point since
optimizing a domain you do not own or control is obviously not a good
marketing plan.)


Blogger


Blogger is completely frëe and currently owns the majority of the remotely
hosted user base, but not by a landslide. Bought out by Google in 1999,
Blogger essentially fired up the blogging trend we see today. It is by far
the easiest overall solution to use and, if you are a novice user looking to
throw up some recipes or poetry, this is for you. Blogger is completely frëe
and includes some great features like comments, photo blogging, and a basic
community feel with user profiles. Because it is so dumbed down there are
some features you may not find with Blogger that are only available through
3rd party add-ons. As a side note Blogger weblogs do quite well in the
search engines and this was recently exploited with it being the first
choice for sp@m blogs or splogs. A splog is a weblog used for the sole
purpose of gaining inbound links or generating thousands of keyword stuffed
pages with Adsense and the like. The recent Google Jagger update cleared a
large portion of this up. Frëe.

Typepad


Released in 2003, Typepad is a product of Sixapart, the makers of Movable
Type. It is largely based on MT but there are some major enhancements and
differences. Your blog can accomodate one or more photo albums with auto
thumbnail generation. You can easily add music, books, and other media to
Typelists, which grab a thumbnail from Amazon and other retailers for easy
displaying in your sidebar. Typepad is also a great deal more technical than
Blogger so a bit of HTML know-how is recommended. On that note, editing your
blog to look the way you want is also quite easy and Typepad blogs are known
for being very eye-pleasing, intuitive and easy to navigate. In Sixapart's
business model, Typepad is aimed at regular home and small business users
while Movable Type is targeted at largër businesses or for internal
intranets. Price: Basic, $4.95 a month; Premium, $8.95 to $14.95 a month.

Xanga


These guys originated back in 1999 as a site for sharing book, music and
movie reviews. Although it quickly morphed into a full blown blogging tool,
Xanga still maintains the ability to run a powerful review site. Xanga pulls
data from several retailers like Amazon.com including thumbnails, pricing
and a cover. The software also is very usable by novices with a powerful
WYSIWYG editor allowing for easy HTML editing, adding smilies, links, and
other symbols. By using Blog rings it is also easy to interface with Xanga's
other 3 million users to share interests, ideas, and of course traffïc.
Xanga comes in a frëe and $25 flavor.

Mentions: Blogsome, Blogster, MindSay, Multiply

Self Hosted Blogging Software

WordPress


WordPress originally began as a mod of an older open source package known as
B2. WP is MT's biggest competition and is often the bain of endless
Wordpress vs Movabletype style threads around the internet. Although
launched just over a year or so ago WP has really taken the blogosphere by
storm. And with good reason - Wordpress is completely frëe under GNU
licensing and is packed with many features you will not find anywhere else.
It is also much easier to install and get blogging for novice users and has
a very large and helpful community. WP runs on PHP/mySQL and is quite
scalable judging from some of the very large and trafficked sites I see
using it. It also sports utilities to import files from Movable Type,
Textpattern, Greymatter, Blogger, and B2. Wordpress recently upped the ante
when Yahoo recently included them on their hostíng packages, in addition to
MT. I have to admit I am finding myself more and more digging WP and will
likely convert Profitpapers to WP as I get time (it can be a biznitch).
Wordpress is frëe.

Movable Type

Aside from maybe Greymatter (the original open source blogging tool),
Movabletype dominated the blogging market share in 2002-2004. Released in
late 2001, Perl based Movable Type by Sixapart has maintained a large
portion of the blogging market share, due mainly to the fact that there is a
frëe version (supporting up to 3 weblogs) and that it is incredibly
powerful, intuitive and easy to customize. Template driven Movable Type also
sports one of the largest communities of developers and blogging enthusiasts
around, meaning lots of support, idea sharing, and of course plugins.
Movable Type can be configured to dynamically generate HTML, PHP or any
other kind of pages you like, meaning it is incredibly scalable, fast, and
loved by spiders. It is perhaps the most well known blogging software for
SEO purposes and it is what currently powers Profitpapers and several of my
other projects. Moveabletype is either Frëe with 3 authors, 1 weblog, and no
support or $69.95 with unlimited weblogs, authors and full support.

Textpattern


Textpattern is the brainchild of Dean Allen and was written to ease
publishing of content for those not inclined to learn HTML. Like WP and MT,
Textpattern runs on PHP and mySQL for easy administration, backups, and
power. What really sets textpattern apart from the others is the integration
of Textile. Textile is a tool for easily formatting content for those who do
not know HTML. WP & MT have modules for textile as well but it is native to
the Textpattern system. Another bonus of the app is its superior handling of
comment spam due to its smaller market share. On the blogs I maintain
running WP and MT, I often find myself clearing out spam every day, whereas
on some very busy textpattern sites I receive only manual comment spam (not
bot driven). TP is open source.

Mentions: Blosxom, LifeType, Serendipity

Community Based Blogging Software


Slash

Waaaaay back in 1997, Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda launched a website known as Chips
& Dips, supplied via his student account at Hope College in Michigan. In
1999 Andover.net acquired Slashdot. Shortly after, the underlying code was
released as open source software called Slash. Like Movable Type and
Greymatter, Slash runs on Perl, but it also has established hooks into MySQL
and a very strong track record of scaling to enormous traffïc levels. To
give you an idea, the term 'slashdotted' originated from acquiring a link on
this nöw infamous and very popular tech news website - and consequently
watching your servers melt. If you have nevër messed around with Slash, you
really should as it is quite a powerful platform. Slash is open source.

Scoop

Another well known Perl based community blogging software is Scoop. Scoop is
the software that powers Kuro5shin, DailyKos and many other busy community
weblogs. Scoop took the Slashdot idea and expanded on it, making the
discussion rather than the news the focus of the application. Where Slashdot
entries tend to have a link with added commentary pointing readers off the
site, Scoop points to stories written by members of the community keeping
the reader within your own weblog. Scoop is also well known for handling
large volumes of traffïc and a large very technical community. Scoop is frëe.

Drupal


Drupal is a well known open source community blogging platform with a very
large community of users and developers. Not only is Drupal frëe but it is
damn powerful. Instead of Perl, which is quite hard to decode at times, even
if you are a fluent coder, Drupal uses a PHP/mySQL platform. Drupal is also
a very community focused application with a built-in forum, download area,
and hundreds of other home brewed mods and hacks. If you are looking for a
lot of functionality, give Drupal a look - the project has become quite
mature. It is also much easier to use and customize than either Scoop or
Slash. Drupal is also another open source project.

Mentions: LiveJournal, PHP Nuke


Here is a handy blog software comparison chart courtesy of Online Journalism
Review. Here is another from Weblog Industry Report which is much more
thorough and nostalgic yet a tad dated.

If you are into following the devlopment of open source CMS, portal, blog
and related systems you should chëck out opensourcecms.


Miles Evans

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