Blogging Platforms

Sometime over the next month or two I’m going to be rebuilding two blogging sites: this one and the Informatics Blogs server. My natural tendency is to stick with Moveable Type. v3.0 looks to be a fairly minor upgrade, and there are some other options out there. If I were going to switch, now would be the time.

I’m thinking mainly of a small number of alternatives: WordPress, drupal, and pyblosxom. Shelley’s essay on WordPress is compelling, and I’m thinking I may do demo setup to see whether it will work. If I were going to make the transition, I would do it first for my own site, and then bring over the informatics blogs server. The latter is going to be the more difficult one, with a hundred blogs to migrate. So migration is a pretty major issue.

MT Pros

* Familiarity: I have a pretty good feeling for Moveable Type, having used it for a couple of years now. Frankly, I have some serious cognitive space devoted to the system.

* Install base: It’s convenient when there is an active community of users. I am not looking for a piece of software that is going to disappear soon. There are lots of MT users and plug-ins, and though it can be a bit clunky in places, there’s a lot of help out there for that.

* No migration!

* Static pages: I am pretty concerned, in the case of WordPress, about what kind of load a few hundred blogs are going to put on a server.

MT Cons

* While I am very thankful to the Trotts for bringing forward MT, and for making it available to a growing community, I am concerned that it is a proprietary system.

* It’s also a bit harder to develop for. My hope is that so much of WordPress is in the database that admin tools will be easier to write. And, of course, these can then be released to a larger community of educational bloggers.

* Dealing with multiple users. I would be willing to pay for an MT Pro that allowed for easy account management. I figured this would follow Typepad pretty quickly, but no such luck. As it is, I need to give students enough room to hang themselves, without enough to mess up the entire server. And I need a way to do mass creation of blogs and of users. I wrote some tools that did some of this last year, but there were a few bugs that needed to be worked out. I may work these out, or I may start from scratch with another system. For the server system, the use of PHP means that I may actually be able to create multiple instances of the blogging system rather than the more centralized system I am using for MT now.

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  1. Posted 4/25/2004 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    i promote drupal, it works. not if you talk to jason, but then nothing works if you give it to mr. nolan.

  2. Posted 4/28/2004 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    I second the suggestion to go Drupal. I post to two blogs that use it–mine and Kairosnews. You knew that though, of course. Drupal’s built-in news aggregator is the pièce de résistance.

  3. Posted 4/29/2004 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    That’s DR. Nolan, you grad student you!

    To be honest, after using Drupal for about 2 months, I must say, that, and this is just my academic opinion, it sucks the bag. I’ve used MT, LJ, Blogger, handrolled blogs, Greymatter, and one I developed myself. And so far wordpress wins.

    The only reason I’m playing with drupal is to keep Jeremy happy. Not that there’s anything ‘wrong’ with drupal, but it speaks to a very specific technological world view that I don’t have much understanding of. Think BSCW, Firstclass, CSILE and KnowledgeForum… that is the “it makes sense to me, so I’ll impose it on you” mind set, rather than the “what works with the widest variety of individual users” mind set.

    BTW, ask Jeremy what it was he suggested I move on to, if/when I nuke drupal (and I will by July). You might as well be his victim next.

  4. Alex
    Posted 4/29/2004 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    Despite the suggestions–which I do value–I’m right now going to take a run at WordPress. Instead of having a centralized piece of code that manages all the blogs (as is the case now with MT), I’m going to write an installer/management system that can basically install a self-contained blog in a user’s directory. In terms of keeping everying working, I think this makes the most sense. I’m not sure whether I have the time to put into changing the system right now, but I would certainly like to!

  5. Posted 5/2/2004 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    it should also be said that i promoted wordpress to toronto’s very own before i promoted drupal. wordpress is more of a blog system though and i agree drupal is more ‘mechanical’ i find no real problems with either wp or drupal, it is just i think drupal is built to manage multiple blogs and does that fairly well.

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