Rodney Campbell's Blog

Choosing a Blogging Software Package

by on Jul.24, 2006, under Technology

So… I was tinkering with the idea of setting up and running a blog – but where to start? Weblogs (or Blogs for short) have been the rage on the Internet over the past few years so given that I was myself a VERY early adopter of the web (I setup my first web site back in around 1992/93? – back then we used the CERN software and the Viola and then Mosaic web browsers) I figured it was about time.

I've been familiar with web server software for many years (I've been running my own apache servers for about as long as I can remember) but I've never really done much with any of these complete software suites with content driven from a database – I've always been more of a cobble together and hand craft anything I need in Perl and Shell.

One of my passions and hobbies is Xbox (and now Xbox 360) console gaming and more specifically Online gaming with Microsoft's excellent Xbox Live service. A number of years ago when Xbox Live was in it's infancy (in fact it wasn't even out here in Australia) I helped create an online community for like minded gamers and more recently (just over a year ago) I was one of the founders of an Xbox Community web site and forums called XboxZone. In that capacity I've basically been their primary systems administrator and coder so I got my feet wet with PHP coding and a MySQL database driven site (we use the phpBB forums software package). Which brings us to now – my requirements were basically that I wanted something that I could host myself, would run on an Apache web server with MySQL and preferably PHP (or maybe Perl) and was free. This would allow me to have total control and since I can code and do all this other stuff myself I could tinker away and get it all to basically do what I want.

A search of some available literature and reviews of blogging software on the Internet basically narrowed things down to a shortlist in two distinct camps:

  1. What I'll call native blogging packages (e.g. WordPress, Textpattern and Movable Type).
  2. Complete CMS's (Content Management Systems) which would be able to run a whole site (with a blogging extension for the actual blog) (e.g. Drupal, Joomla and XOOPS)

Some of the better articles and reviews I came across in my travels in my reseach and investigation included:

In the end I decided to go with a specific dedicated blogging package and it came down to a toss up between WordPress and Textpattern (as you can see I decided on WordPress).

All in all I'd have to say it was all incredibly easy to set up; the addition of themes, plugins and widgets was relatively easy even with a number of manual code hacks and other extra coding I did to get things to work more like I wanted them. All up I went from zero to pretty much fully functioning site in perhaps under a dozen hours over two days. There are still more things I want to do and implement but I'll work on them over time.

In the next article I'll go through a number of the WordPress Themes I looked at as well as the WordPress Plugins and WordPress Widgets I decided to use.

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