Although WordPress.com and many other bloghosting platforms offer many advantages, as outlined in a previous entry by David Peralty many people prefer to host, more even own their content. One can think of many reasons to host their own content, other than the most heard customization limits wordpress.com usually faces:
- Freedom to switch services or hosting company;
- SEO advantages;
- Easy to correctly forward when switching domains and keep traffic;
- Upload space only limited by hosting plan;
- Complete backup freedom;
- Freedom to criticize the platform you use, without having the fear to be shutdown;
Once you have decided to host your blog yourself and settled on a hosting plan, there are many freely available blog software options. I this entry I will list the most known platforms with their pros and cons and examples of blogs on using those platforms.
The community around WordPress is very active, both in theme and in plugin development. There are millions of blogs running on WordPress and thousands bloggers write about WordPress topics. Over the last months WordPress, especially older installations, have regularly been hacked, mainly by link spammers.
The actual version of WordPress is version 2.5.1, a bugfix and security fix released on April 25, 2008.
- Active, supporting community;
- Thousands of plugins and themes available;
- Regular updates and known update cycle;
- Easy installation and upgrades (via Fantastico if offered by webhoster);
- Low learning curve to start using the platform;
- Search friendly permalinks and tag system;
- Supports both PHP4 and PHP5.
- Security QA: WordPress has been the subject of many security vulnerabilities over the last 12 months. Hacks have both been public and unpublished;
- Only supports MySQL database;
- Active grayzone community releasing themes with hidden spam/ads;
- WordPress has no built-in caching system;
- Upgrades usually require (automated) database changes;
- No multiple blogs option (WordPressMU comes to aid);
- Arguably, Automattic’s strangehold on WordPress.
Since December 2007, Movable Type again is available as a free (open source) platform, released under the GNU/GPL license. Movable Type is written in Perl and offered by Six Apart. Once the most used platform, MT lost its popularity in May 2005 when founder Mena Trott announced a new licensing and pricing structure. Many MT users switched to WordPress. More than 3 years later Six Apart released MTOS.
The actual version of MT is 4.1.
- Multiple weblogs support;
- Static page generation (dynamic page generation available in the settings);
- Easy template tags structure;
- Support for severable databases (MYSQL, BerkeleyDB, PostgreSQL, SQLite);
- Standard OpenID and Typekey integration;
- Active community;
- Known to be secure.
- Written in Perl. Not every (small) webhoster might have an update Perl configuration;
- Installation has to be simplified;
- Many MT users have often cursed MT after upgrades broke their site;
- Less themes and plugins available than for WP;
- The administration panel requires a rather high learning curve to get used to. And find everything.
Featured Blogs Running MT
- Daring Fireball by John Gruber;
- kottke.org by Jason Kottke;
- 456 Berea Street by Roger Johansson;
- Blogography by David Simmer II.
The excellent ExpressionEngine platform probably is one of my favourite platforms. EE comes in different flavours: the free ExpressionEngine Core, a lite version or the full blown, purchasable, ExpressionEngine CMS (pricing details here). ExpressionEngine Core is a great and fast blogging platform, easily customizable. Although the Core version rather limited is in its functionality, with some investigation one will immediately discover the possibilities.
- Easy installation;
- Active community;
- Written in PHP, supports both PHP4 and PHP5;
- Fast page rendering;
- Easy template tag structure;
- Excellent and easy to understand documentation;
- Extensive statistics module;
- Powerful admin utilities, such as SQL Manager and Search and Replace.
- No multiple blogs support in the Core version;
- Complex administration panel with high learning curve;
- Limited license (commercial use not allowed);
- Less plugins and templates available than for WordPress;
- Although the template tag structure very easy is, it might take a while before one really knows how to make EE theming easy;
- Only supports MySQL;
- Not all the features from the full version can be replaced with existing add-ons.
Featured Sites Running ExpressionEngine Core
Habari was already in the news here at BloggingPro and certainly is one of the blog platform to watch. Started by some of the core members of the k2 theme for WordPress the idea behind Habari is simple: a blog platform with the most cutting edge technology.
I work with the team that makes another blogging app, and at least from the standpoint of the quality of the code and application design, Habari is inarguably better. As Sean notes, though, it’s not very mature, so the user experience for a non-technical user would likely be worse. Where you’d make the tradeoff of whether it’s worth it depends on where you reside on the continuum from programmer to non-programmer. Some of the technical things I love about Movable Type (which I use) include support for database abstraction, support for multiple blogs, and a well-designed infrastructure for things like templating — Habari does all of those things very well for a young application as well.
- Cutting edge technology, PHP5.2 required;
- Support for both MySQL and SQLite (PostgreSQL support is planned);
- Apache 2.0 license, following the meritocracy principles;
- Support for Apache, Lighttp and Nginx server;
- Respected and blog experienced core developers.
- Cutting edge technology, PHP5.2 required;
- Very young community and software, only few themes and plugins available;
- Apache2.0 license: sometimes discussion, decision can take ages.
Featured Blogs Running Habari
Chyrp is the last addition to this list and probably the most unknown platform. Chyrp is a lightweight and fast blogging engine, perfect if you want to run your own tumblelog. Chyrp is an awesome platform if you mainly blog about new discoveries, repost videos and links. It offers everything you need when all you want to do is blogging.
Other than listing all the pros and cons of Chyrp, I’ll rather tell you to try out the very unique Chyrp Demo platform.