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I am currently looking at various blogging tools available for personal publishing and re-evaluating some of these options. Since I'm planning to create a new blog to publish my book reviews in (I'll still be posting these reviews at LiteraryForums.org), I wanted to evaluate some of the options available and see if I should stick with WordPress or not.
I won't say that I'm unbiased. Once you get used to working on a particular tool or software over a period of time, you're pretty much convinced by its usefulness, partly because of familiarity and partly because you're quite good at customizing it to your needs. But in any case, I decided to share some of my opinions on the various platforms available for personal publishing. Here I've restricted myself to three blogging tools and one blogging service.
Posted on Sat, Mar 25, 2006 at 11:38 IST (last updated: Thu, May 7, 2009 @ 21:07 IST)
Pros: Quite sophisticated and feature rich
Cons: Probably overkill as a personal blogging option.
This is more than a useful blogging tool and looks quite promising. I downloaded and installed it on my personal server and I only have two problems with this tool. Firstly, its size. It's uncompressed size is around 9 MB or so and for a blogging system, I consider that way too big. It also shows that it is feature rich, but probably way overkill as a personal blogging tool. The second problem, of course, is that it tends to appear far more complex than WordPress, for instance. It's multi-blogging tool, for instance, seems confusing by default and the developers should probably look at changing the default options to install only a single blog. Also its admin panel does require a bit of learning. Overall, b2evolution is quite good and seems well designed and sophisticated.
Pros: Simple, small and intuitive
Cons: Lacks a bit of polish, also fewer plugins, themes and mods than other blogging systems
bBlog would probably be the ideal blogging tool for many reasons. It's pure blogging approach makes it cut down on a lot of excessive features and options, which is refreshing. It's small download size is also a definite advantage. But there are a few hitches on the path to perfection. One is the way its templating system is designed. I am a fan of HTML templates, and no doubt Smarty is a very sophisticated templating system, but what this implies is that you probably need to tweak it a lot more to get it to work the way you want. For instance, when you need to display more link categories on your sidebar, you need to edit the template to get it to display. This took me quite a while to work out. You also need to learn the Smarty tag system if you want to customize the templates. The other problem with bBlog is that you won't find too many pre-built themes, plugins or mods for it. It's level of customizability is quite basic.
Barring these issues I raised, bBlog is probably my second choice as a blogging system after WordPress.
Pros: Looks slick and professional
Cons: Slightly complex admin panel
I'm reserving judgement on NucleusCMS because it looks to be a great option as a personal CMS. Again, like b2evolution, it is a multi-blogging tool, which is a definite layer of complexity which I prefer to avoid when possible, but unlike b2evolution, it is small in size and its features are somewhat different from a typical blogging tool. It's probably targetted at more technical users than WordPress, too.
The only setback, in my opinion, is the admin panel which looks a bit more complicated, I suspect, than it actually is. A bit counter-intuitive and definitely takes a lot of getting used to.
Pros: Free, easy to setup blogging service, no web hosting required
Cons: Lack of control over plugins, features and skins
WordPress.com is not a blogging tool, but a service, along the lines of blogger/blogspot. The advantage of WordPress.com is that you have a blog up and running within minutes. The downside is that, if you're expecting it to work exactly like it would if you had the downloadable version of WordPress installed on your own server, you'd be mistaken.
It's probably ideal for newbies looking for an alternative to blogger. WordPress is definitely a great blogging option, but to me, its true potential is realized by the ability to plug in a wide variety of features with ease and to customize templates. With WP.com, you are restricted to a stock WordPress install without any plugins or the ability to customize the template. While you get a variety of pre-built themes to skin your blog with, the customizability is minimal. Definitely more suited for new bloggers looking to get a feel of blogging without the complexities of setting up their own.