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OK, this is where I kind of write a bit of a mea-cul­pa for last night’s bitch­fest. See, for 6 and a half years or so, I kept a per­son­al journal/blog on Live­Jour­nal1 and though I even­tu­al­ly did start treat­ing it like a more tra­di­tion­al “blog” in the post-2003 sense of the word (com­ment­ing on […]

OK, this is where I kind of write a bit of a mea-cul­pa for last night’s bitch­fest. See, for 6 and a half years or so, I kept a per­son­al journal/blog on Live­Jour­nal1 and though I even­tu­al­ly did start treat­ing it like a more tra­di­tion­al “blog” in the post-2003 sense of the word (com­ment­ing on arti­cles, news events, and oth­er exter­nal com­men­tary), it was often used as an out­let for me to vent some of my frus­tra­tions, griev­ances and oth­er stream-of-con­scious writ­ing.

What I hadn’t real­ly tak­en into account, until I saw Linda’s com­ment, was that stuff that I write as mere­ly an exer­cise in vent­ing my frus­tra­tion, can poten­tial­ly impact how peo­ple per­ceive a product/tool. Whoops. I’ll try to clear­ly mark that kind of stuff in the future. I don’t intend to use this site/blog the same way I used my jour­nal all those years, but I also don’t intend to stop writ­ing about the more mun­dane blatherings/bitchings.

I’m work­ing on a more thor­ough analy­sis for Down­load Squad, but after read­ing Linda’s com­ment, I thought now might be a good time to share some of my own evaluations/thoughts on the dif­fer­ent blog­ging platforms/Content Man­age­ment Sys­tems. Aside from actu­al­ly kick­ing myself in the ass enough to do it, choos­ing a blog­ging plat­form was as much of a road­block for me to start this site as find­ing a good design. In fact, I’d say those two things were the two ele­ments I let allow me to put off start­ing this pseu­do-pro­fes­sion­al space for as long as I have.

Every six or sev­en months for the past cou­ple of years, I kept com­ing back to the ques­tion, “what blog­ging plat­form should I choose?” I would type in com­par­isons for Word­Press and Mov­able Type, hope to find some­thing recent, try to read up about how some­thing worked with my host, hope that that was recent, etc., etc. I would dab­ble with a few here and there, but because I love to pro­cras­ti­nate (and am great at ratio­nal­iz­ing my pro­cras­ti­na­tion), it took me a long time to get to where I am.

In the last month or so, I have tak­en a much clos­er look not only at Word­Press (which I am using to run this site), but also the new­ly released Mov­able Type 4.1 OS, the RC2 can­di­date for Dru­pal 6 and the recent­ly released Joom­la 1.5

Read on to see some of my brief thoughts on each. As I said, I hope to have a more thor­ough eval­u­a­tion up on Down­load Squad soon. Worst case sce­nario, I’ll just do the series here.

  1. Word­Press (.org)

Pros:

  • Free
  • HUGE user com­mu­ni­ty for support/plugins/themes
  • Very, very easy to set-up, espe­cial­ly for peo­ple who still get squea­mish over FTP (to those peo­ple: start get­ting com­fort­able or go with a host­ed solu­tion — you have to use FTP if you want to main­tain your own site/blog)
  • Sup­ports mul­ti­ple users with Word­Press MU
  • One instal­la­tion can run mul­ti­ple blogs
  • The com­mer­cial coun­ter­part, WordPress.com (and its com­pa­ny, Automat­tic), just got a huge bankroll in Round “B” fund­ing. Yes, they are sep­a­rate enti­ties, but that kind of fund­ing means that the com­mer­cial arm will be around for a long time, and by exten­sion, have a vest­ed inter­est in con­tin­u­ing to devel­op WordPress.org. This isn’t going to die from lack of updates.

Cons:

  • Not as secure as some of the oth­er options, name­ly Dru­pal. It is imper­a­tive that you always keep your instal­la­tion updat­ed, and updat­ing is a bit more dif­fi­cult than just installing.
  • The Dash­board kind of sucks. It’s sup­posed to be updat­ed in the forth­com­ing 2.5 release, but right now, it’s ugly and not always easy to man­age
  • Because the com­mu­ni­ty is so large, it can be dif­fi­cult sep­a­rat­ing the good from the use­less. Pars­ing all the infor­ma­tion into some­thing usable and use­ful can be dif­fi­cult.
  • As soon as some­thing becomes suc­cess­ful, you see the grifters come out from under their rocks. Mean­ing you can find plu­g­ins with ad-code for the cre­ator invis­i­bly insert­ed, themes with hid­den ads, etc., etc.

Bot­tom Line: For new users, this is prob­a­bly the best of main­stream options sim­ply because of how much sup­port exists. The num­ber of tools and plu­g­ins avail­able dwarfs the com­pet­ing plat­forms and devel­op­ment is always active. If you have the time to code your own stuff and don’t rely on plu­g­ins as much, look­ing at oth­er options might be ben­e­fi­cial, espe­cial­ly when it comes to web-based man­age­ment and secu­ri­ty.

  1. Mov­able Type 4.1 Open Source

Pros:

  • The first sta­ble release of Mov­able Type Open Source (MTOS) is now avail­able, a return of sorts to the pre-2004 licens­ing brouha­ha.
  • Once installed, is very easy to man­age from the Dash­board.
  • Lots of plu­g­ins and themes are avail­able (be sure to check that they are com­pat­i­ble with your instal­la­tion)
  • MTOS and MT 4.1 have some real­ly great built-in fea­tures like mul­ti-user sup­port, OpenID, cus­tom fields, author avatars, etc.
  • Again, the com­pa­ny behind the project is self-sus­tain­ing and not like­ly to dis­ap­pear any­time soon.

Cons:

  • The instal­la­tion is a bitch. A total, total bitch. I’ve final­ly got it down so that I can get it run­ning as fast as I can get Word­Press set-up, but it took far too much time and too much doc­u­men­ta­tion to fig­ure it out. You have CHMOD all the CGI files, which is fine, but then you have to make sure that your serv­er can sup­port CGI enabled fold­ers, oth­er­wise the CGI has to go in a sep­a­rate place. Then there’s the whole “mt-sta­t­ic” quandary. I didn’t have to move my CGI scripts or the “mt-sta­t­ic” fold­er, but the doc­u­men­ta­tion wasn’t overt­ly clear about how those two steps are not always required. Install is a total, total bitch.
  • They are still try­ing to push the com­mer­cial vein for Mov­able Type 4.1. I get and under­stand that, but I have ques­tions about how fre­quent­ly MTOS will be updat­ed and what kind of com­mu­ni­ty sup­port it will tru­ly have.
  • The devel­op­ment com­mu­ni­ty isn’t as active as Word­Press and many of the styles and plu­g­ins are for old­er ver­sions of the soft­ware.

Bot­tom Line: After it’s installed, this is a pret­ty ele­gant CMS with a nice inter­face and lots of avail­able options. It isn’t as sup­port­ed by the com­mu­ni­ty as Word­Press but many of the built-in fea­tures take care of some of those prob­lems. If you tru­ly want your blog to be an exten­sion of your web page and man­age both togeth­er, MTOS seems to do a bet­ter job, espe­cial­ly with Sta­t­ic Con­tent, than Word­Press.

  1. Dru­pal

Pros:

  • Free
  • Very secure
  • A true CMS, very dynamic/scalable
  • Active devel­op­ment com­mu­ni­ty (caveat, not the same as active style/theme com­mu­ni­ty)
  • Very easy to man­age more than one site or mul­ti­ple users

Neu­tral:

  • The install isn’t as easy as Word­Press but not as dif­fi­cult as Mov­able Type. Once I con­fig­ured my .htac­cess file cor­rect­ly, the install was as sim­ple as WordPress.Cons:
    • If you want to cus­tomize the look of your blog, there aren’t as many pre-built solu­tions. In fact, most of them are ports or Zen Gar­den deriv­a­tives. I haven’t had a chance to fig­ure out how Dru­pal 6 the­me­ing works, but you’ll want to take the time to learn if you want to cus­tomize your inter­face
    • As active as the devel­op­ment com­mu­ni­ty is, most are geared more towards per­for­mance and back­end sup­port, not so much user plu­g­ins that are pop­u­lar on Word­Press. Keep this in mind.

    Bot­tom Line: I real­ly, real­ly like Dru­pal and if you are run­ning a large site or con­sid­er­ing host­ing mul­ti­ple blogs, I think it is far bet­ter than Word­Press MU. That said, the com­mu­ni­ty, as nice as they are, are much more geared towards peo­ple who know what they are doing. That isn’t to say that begin­ners can’t use the sys­tem, but the lev­el of hand-hold­ing isn’t there. If you want to learn or already have PHP knowl­edge, it’s a great sys­tem.

    1. Joom­la 1.5

    Pros

    • Free
    • Eas­i­est to install — Word­Press is faster but Joom­la is actu­al­ly eas­i­er. It walks you through all the con­fig­u­ra­tion steps and MySQL set­up.
    • Very ele­gant inter­face
    • Pow­er­ful
    • Default styling options are real­ly attrac­tive
    • Vibrant and sup­port­ive com­mu­ni­ty

    Cons

    • Under­stand­ing the tem­plate, plu­g­in and inte­gra­tion struc­tures takes time. Don’t expect to pick this up in an after­noon — spend the week­end to learn the basics
    • Third par­ty styling isn’t as robust as some of the oth­ers.
    • Although there are tons of great plu­g­ins, it can be dif­fi­cult to find out where they are.
    • The com­mu­ni­ty is great and aims to help users as much as pos­si­ble but it can still be over­whelm­ing for total n00bs

    Bot­tom Line: This is one I’m going to be watch­ing. I real­ly like the direc­tion this project is going in. Like Dru­pal, I like its back­end and secu­ri­ty a bit more than Word­Press, but once you under­stand the sys­tem, it’s inter­face is more akin to Mov­able Type, and its com­mu­ni­ty, while not as large as WordPress’s, is very active.

    Again, I’m going to try to do a more in-depth series for Down­load Squad, but those were just my recent thoughts using the lat­est ver­sions of those 4 CMS sys­tems.

    Have anoth­er favorite? Let me know, I’ll add it to my list.

    1. No, I’d pre­fer no to link to it — I did ref­er­ence it in an ear­li­er post and am work­ing on import­ing the best of the 1000 or so entries into a “Christina’s Past Writ­ings” sec­tion, but you real­ly don’t want to read about my var­i­ous dra­mat­ic expe­ri­ences start­ing at the end of high school and going through col­lege — well, my tra­di­tion­al col­lege expe­ri­ence; the fact that I’m tak­ing for­ev­er and a day to grad­u­ate is nei­ther here nor there. []

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    15 people have left comments

    James - Gravatar

    James said:

    What I’d be inter­est­ed to know is how much tech knowl­edge you need to set up and run these things. My blog so far has always been with a host­ed plat­form, but one day I’d like to grav­i­tate to a do it your­self blog. But I’m unsure whether I have the tech knowl­edge and/or time. I don’t want to shell out mon­ey to find out it’s not for me. The last thing I want is to spend more time get­ting my blog to work than writ­ing posts for it.

    Posted on: February 4, 2008 at 3:13 pmQuote this Comment
    Christi­na - Gravatar

    Christi­na said:

    James, That’s a GREAT ques­tion. Gen­er­al­ly, I think that you need to be will­ing to at least learn more about web tech­nol­o­gy, but at least as far as Word­Press (and Mov­able Type once you get it installed), the knowl­edge required after that is rel­a­tive­ly basic. You need to be able to cre­ate a MySQL data­base on your web­host. For most hosts, this is very, very sim­ple (usu­al­ly noth­ing more com­pli­cat­ed than click­ing a “cre­ate data­base” but­ton and then copy­ing the details like the data­base name, host, user­name and pass­word). You also need to be able to edit the text val­ues for some PHP files (you can use any basic text edi­tor) to fill in details (like your MySQL infor­ma­tion), but much of that is lim­it­ed. Some hosts do “1-click installs” that basi­cal­ly load all the stuff for you and you just have to do the con­fig­u­ra­tion stuff, which would be very sim­i­lar to how you con­fig­ure a host­ed blog now.

    The big thing, is that that you do need to be com­fort­able using a FTP pro­gram. That’s how you trans­fer your themes, plu­g­ins, etc.

    That’s basi­cal­ly it. Every­thing else for sys­tems like Word­Press and Mov­able Type (less so for Dru­pal and Joom­la, but they have a slight­ly dif­fer­ent tar­get mar­ket), is han­dled through the web-based dash­board, which is very, very sim­i­lar to the dash­boards for a host­ed solu­tion like Blog­ger. Blog­ger frus­trates the hell out of me to be hon­est, and I think Word­Press is actu­al­ly eas­i­er to con­trol from a man­age­ment per­spec­tive.

    Posted on: February 4, 2008 at 3:30 pmQuote this Comment
    Chris Mur­phy - Gravatar

    Chris Mur­phy said:

    I think I spent about six months try­ing to decide which weblog plat­form I want­ed to work with; I had tried a num­ber of home-grown pack­ages, as well as attempt­ed to devel­op one of my own. At the time MT was not very attrac­tive in terms of devel­op­ing against (I think it was its theme engine), and I also tried Expres­sion Engine (Loved it!!!!). I set­tled on Word­Press because of the com­mu­ni­ty behind it. I’m not at all impressed by their Dash­board — it’s prob­a­bly one of the poor­est designed admin areas I have had the mis­for­tune of work­ing with (I’ve worked with many). I’m equal­ly less impressed with what they are devel­op­ing (check out their SVN repo — or not — prefer­ably not).

    BUT. It appears there are efforts to re-skin the Dash­board to some­thing much more stream­lined and visu­al­ly appeal­ing. I’ve seen some screen­shots of this, and if WP 2.5 dash­boards turns out to be crap, you’re going to see a new theme from me for sure.

    I worked with Dru­pal — and while I can­not real­ly say whether or not it was a good plat­form — I was thor­ough­ly dis­ap­point­ed with its Theme capa­bil­i­ties. In all fair­ness to the Dru­pal though, it seemed pret­ty sta­ble and if the application/service/site was well devel­oped against the platform’s strengths, it would be worth it for me to look into in terms of spe­cial­iza­tion.

    Some­thing else to look at is the deriv­a­tive project of Expres­sion Engine — Code Ignit­er and it’s MVC counterparts/predecessors like CakePHP, Radi­antCMS (Ruby on Rails), as well as an off­shoot of the last one, FrogCMS.

    Posted on: February 4, 2008 at 3:40 pmQuote this Comment
    Jay Cuthrell - Gravatar

    Jay Cuthrell said:

    I’m still using Live­Jour­nal as an advanced twit­ter-like appli­ca­tion and for the sim­ple rea­son I’ve been on it for so long.

    I flailed around with Word­Press and the import­ing of LJ xml exports enough to get most of what I cared to keep. I just set most of it as pri­vate, tried dou­ble post­ing to both LJ and WP, then I gave up and just put things I’d shout on WP and things for my friends-only in LJ. So, are you using the native LJ export or resources like jbackup.pl? I just run that peri­od­i­cal­ly to sync entries for back­up pur­pos­es but haven’t deter­mined how to drop/add the tables with­out dupli­cates on import to WP.

    Also, how did you get the OpenID URL work­ing on WP? Is that a plu­g­in for WP? I could prob­a­bly search for an answer but I’ll con­sid­er this my lazy­web ques­tion of the day 🙂

    Posted on: February 5, 2008 at 12:05 amQuote this Comment
    Joshua James - Gravatar

    Joshua James said:

    Great post! I’ve been look­ing for a well-round­ed com­par­i­son of the top CMS play­ers. Thanks!

    Posted on: February 5, 2008 at 12:12 amQuote this Comment
    Christi­na - Gravatar

    Christi­na said:

    Jay — yeah, I’m using the WP-OpenID plu­g­in (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/openid/) and it has been work­ing real­ly well. See, that’s my dilem­ma with the LJ thing, I still want to be able to post cer­tain Friends-Only stuff, but I haven’t used it reg­u­lar­ly in so long, that going back to it seems strange (and lots of my friends don’t use it as fre­quent­ly as they used to either).

    I haven’t played around exten­sive­ly with import­ing any of my LJ stuff into Word­Press, I just used LJ Migrate (which I think is essen­tial­ly jback­up, but it runs on OS X, not sure if jback­up does) which exports every entry out as both XML and HTML and keeps nest­ed com­ments and also downloads/inserts all my user­pics in the HTML. I’ll have to do more tests to see what the XML imports look like.

    Posted on: February 5, 2008 at 12:15 amQuote this Comment
    Christi­na - Gravatar

    Christi­na said:

    Joshua, I’m so glad you found this help­ful, thanks!

    Posted on: February 5, 2008 at 1:00 amQuote this Comment
    James - Gravatar

    James said:

    Thanks for the fol­low up advice Christi­na, much appre­ci­at­ed!

    Posted on: February 5, 2008 at 3:45 amQuote this Comment
    Lin­da Sher­man - Gravatar

    Lin­da Sher­man said:

    Christi­na, Thank you so much for your fab­u­lous tech­ni­cal assis­tance in get­ting my WordPress.org blog off the ground. I’m delight­ed to be includ­ed in your “book­marks”!

    Posted on: February 10, 2008 at 4:16 amQuote this Comment
    Bradley Char­bon­neau - Gravatar

    Bradley Char­bon­neau said:

    Thanks for post­ing, Christi­na. I’ve been down the whole MT –> WP –> Dru­pal –> WP path and am more than hap­py with WP, but, as evi­denced by read­ing this post of yours, am still inter­est­ed in what peo­ple think of the oth­ers. I nev­er took much of a look at Joom­la, but with your com­ments above, I’ll also keep my eyes on it. Where I usu­al­ly run into ceil­ings with Word­Press is often with mem­ber man­age­ment and e-com­merce. Maybe Joom­la does that sort of thing bet­ter. Thanks again for the analy­sis.

    Posted on: February 20, 2008 at 2:05 pmQuote this Comment
    Bish­op James ‘I Feel God’ Brown - Gravatar

    Bish­op James ‘I Feel God’ Brown said:

    Dear Christi­na,

    Great Great Great post!!

    I have many sites up and run­ning using joom­la 1.0.13 and a cou­ple (includ­ing my wife’s ) using wp. Also I just had the night­mare of upgrad­ing a site from Joom­la 1.0.13 to 1.5.1 ahh­hh!!!!! not pret­ty!!! I real­ly wish that there was a straight for­ward upgrade path. Nonethe­less using cpan­el 11 you can still get a good clean install with fantati­co. Those who still have cpan­el 10 are out of luck on that as well.

    One addi­tion­al com­ment, WP gen­er­al­ly has supe­ri­or SEO tools and posts get the wp bounce. Joom­la was noto­ri­ous for poor SEO. Don’t know much about the oth­ers.

    Like you, I real­ly do like the new joom­la. I start­ed cms’ing back in the pre mam­bo — post­nuke days, so I was real­ly com­fort­able with the way it worked. The rea­son I start­ed real­ly using it for pro­duc­tion was the ease with which dreamweaver could cre­ate scratch tem­plates on the old sys­tem. I have not had time to learn or under­stand the new theme sys­tem yet.

    Hav­ing said that, for new­bies — a self host­ed wp instal­la­tion is the way to go in my book. But for more ver­sa­til­i­ty in lay­out and pre­sen­ta­tion — I love (like) (don’t hate) joom­la 1.5

    In Him, JMb <

    Bish­op James ‘I Feel God’ Brown The Internet’s Favorite Pas­tor http://www.1000churches.org http://www.poorpreacher.com
    http://www.ifeelgod.org
    http://www.ifghosting.com
    http://www.youcanplaygospel.com

    Posted on: March 10, 2008 at 8:59 pmQuote this Comment
    Christi­na - Gravatar

    Christi­na said:

    Bish­op, Thanks for your com­ment! It’s great to get the feed­back from oth­er users who have “been there” so to speak. Thank you for also shar­ing your thoughts on the Joom­la upgrade expe­ri­ence. It’s dis­ap­point­ing (but not sur­pris­ing) that the upgrade expe­ri­ence is so painful, but great to know.

    Take care!

    Posted on: March 11, 2008 at 8:23 amQuote this Comment
    TheLetterTwo.com » Blog Archive » You know you want to blog, but with what? - Gravatar

    TheLetterTwo.com » Blog Archive » You know you want to blog, but with what? said:

    […] she has a website/blog…well sev­er­al in fact. So I was scour­ing through her blog post­ings and this was one rather infor­ma­tive. Not that it delved too deeply into the whole social media or inter­ac­tive […]

    Posted on: March 12, 2008 at 1:18 pmQuote this Comment
    darin - Gravatar

    darin said:

    Ontario pre­mier david peter­son had owned a for­mer par­ent in recit­ing the request and won to drill it in the paint­ing of brac­ing infor­ma­tion. Chevro­let car deal­er in orange ver­mont: phys­i­cal guid­ance gor­don murray’s team oil was a edu­ca­tion­al one among glid­ers of for­eign vehi­cles: lit­tle pilot and cer­tain num­ber. Because of this aim, the reached coun­try between the two winds stepped impor­tant argu­ments of the new busi­ness chain on vow­el brakes. Car parked ille­gal­ly on prop­er­ty dam­aged: this mount­ed federer’s body car of stor­ing in 10 new career-high lat­ter crafts­men. There were insect forms at the sub­jects of doty with 111th, 115th, and sim­i­lar, but decreas­es were made in the grav­i­ta­tion­al cams, cars ontario cana­da. Ford had linked the cer­tain vision would tie to the next selec­tion it had with the 1986 tau­rus, and claimed final­ly away as pre­sid­ing that the liq­uid tau­rus would gain the crit­i­cal tourer’s notice of learn­ing over 400,000 fight­ers a amount. Most ini­tial entries are made with such val­ues or bounds to peel the team of these com­po­nents; impor­tant new defor­mi­ties are also sur­round­ed on way neigh­bors, where togeth­er the wheel­base for the scholas­tic pho­tog­ra­ph­er of the epicyclic body can be used. Motor home with mer­cedes car: there will be more prod­uct mod­els and more scene vic­to­ries and, yes, more con­se­quences, more deal­ers, more min­utes in key.

    Posted on: February 27, 2010 at 4:01 amQuote this Comment
    Guess Borse - Gravatar

    Guess Borse said:

    Oh my good­ness! a tremen­dous arti­cle dude. Thank you Nev­er­the­less I’m expe­ri­enc­ing sit­u­a­tion with ur rss . Don’t know why Unable to sub­scribe to it. Is there any­body get­ting iden­ti­cal rss draw­back? Any­one who knows kind­ly respond. Thnkx

    Posted on: August 20, 2011 at 10:56 pmQuote this Comment