After deciding it was time to design my own blog. I wasn’t quite sure where to start, I had seen many examples and types out there on various engines and levels of quality, so picking “the obvious choice”, to me, wasn’t so…”obvious”.
My first consideration was whether I should host a blog on my current site – www.newventures.com or to build it on one of the many excellent free or non-free blog sites available. For me this first decision was simple; since I’m a techie at heart, retired or not, I wanted to know more and to do more, than just write my heart out. So my first decision was made. I host it on my own site…
The next thing to consider was what type of software did I want to use, or did I want to build one from scratch. While I am a techie at heart I’m not big on building the nuts and bolts, I prefer using the tools and documentation that are already out there and modifying them accordingly. So this ruled out building a blog from the ground up.
Thinking of this just brought back an old memory I have, of a friend of mine. He loved building things from the ground up, and was very good at it.
I needed some help with a tough (for me) Perl programming challenge. He gave me a one line seven “word” script that used nothing but Perl intrinsics… It worked but it scared the life out of me AND it had no documentation nor comments in the code.
Thankfully I only had to use it for a short while, but even after researching intrinsics to death, I still didn’t understand how and why it worked.
I limited my initial choices to what my hosting service offered (www.planetdomain.ca). Why install something that I would have to spend time configuring and tweaking, when I could go with something that they would install preconfigured for me! If I really didn’t like what they offered (after reviewing and experimenting) then I could always install something that I thought better later. So with all that decided, I looked at what was available to me.
My service provider offered me four blog engines, preconfigured, that I could install. They were:
- b2evolution – “A blog script featuring multiple blogs, categories/sub-categories, skins, search function, multiple languages, search engines friendly URLs”
- Nucleus – “A powerful blog script featuring multiple blogs, multiple authors, drafts and future posts, bookmarklets.”
- PMachine Free – “This is a features limited version of pMachinePro. You need a license, in order to use pMachine Free on commercial or profit oriented websites.”
- WordPress – ” WordPress is a personal publishing tool with focus on aesthetics and featuring cross-blog tool, password protected posts, importing, typographical niceties, multiple authors, bookmarklets.”
Just by the listing and descriptions alone my choices dropped to three. PMachine Free may be a very good program and I am sure the full version is even better and allow me more options. But I am a big supporter of freeware followed by shareware and then commercial programs. So I immediately ruled it out of the running – for now… when you are retired you should count your pennies when you can 😉
I decided that second party articles and comparisons would be the best way to start off. Trying to review each of their home pages and do comparisons on my own isn’t what I wanted to tackle at this point. I figured that if I could find a consensus out there, or a clear winner, then I should try to use it first and only move on to something else if I ran into serious issues, or just didn’t like how it handled things.
Having spent my whole career reading and reviewing articles in magazines published by Ziff-Davis I could think of no better site to start my research than on their online site www.zdnet.com. Here is what I found:
- “Overview: b2evolution is probably the most comprehensive blog engine you can find. It includes almost any feature you could expect from a blog tool, and more. Plus, it’s free (instant download), it’s open-source (GPL), it runs virtually anywhere (PHP/mySQL) and it’s available in many languages. Features include instant blogging, blog skins, AntiSpam Deluxe, advanced categorization, and web standards compliance. Note: To run b2evolution, you will need a webserver that can run PHP4, and a MySQL database (you can install b2evolution in an already existing database, and you can put several b2evolution’s in one database).”
- This search for Nucleus kind of surprised me as I got all sorts of hits covering all sorts of topics. But nothing specific on blogging. This was a little disconcerting, plus I was getting a lot of hits on CMS engines (Content Management Systems) and a closer look at the link for Nucleus actually showed its home pages nucleuscms.org. To be truthful a blog can be considered a CMS, but it still threw me. I did check out their home page and they talk of it as a blog so it is still in the running. A search for nucleuscms gave me no matches at all.
- While I didn’t find an overview of WordPress here, I did find quite a large number hits (over 100), with all sorts of articles and comments including a scoring review system which gave me a new tool for comparing these three. WordPress seems to have the lead with articles, links and other stories
While researching using ZDnet, I came across the sort of tool that I value most. A comparison of the blogging products out there, the top 20 contenders were listed, with a whole bunch of “other ones” who didn’t score high enough to register on their own. The article was from March 9th, 2007 and written by Marc Orchant. The title said it all, “WordPress is the clear leader in blog platforms“. The scoring for my three blog engines was:
- WordPress 38.54%
- Nucleus 1.43%
- b2evolution was too far down in the ratings to score by itself
So, based on my research at ZDnet, WordPress appeared to be the leading contender. Now I needed at least one other resource in order to confirm what ZDnet was saying… All three of the products own websites offered a lot of support, suggestions and links, etc but no comparison.
I decided on one of my other favourite research tools – Google and looked for another comparison or review. My biggest challenge was Nucleus, because it was also known as Nucleuscms, so I tried both spellings looking for anything that might be of use. The search query I used was +comparison +b2evolution +wordpress +nucleuscms. Re-arranging the order did not seem to affect the results.
I hit pay dirt when www.weblogmatrix.org came up in the search, it offered a complete comparison of all weblogs, wiki‘s, podcatchers, forums, and other related tools. With it I was able to do a side by side comparison of all three blog engines with this WeblogMatix site. For my purposes there weren’t a lot of differences between them save for:
- pingbacks – essentially a way of letting authors of other articles know when I have put a link in an article referring to them. I like to let others know when I have referred to them – it’s my way of playing nice. Nucleus didn’t support them, b2evolution was unknown, and WordPress used them.
- spam – it’s an issue for everyone these days. And when you post your own blog it is especially important to be protected. All three had tools to fight it, WordPress and b2evolution had at least one built in and of the three it was deduced that WordPress had the most tools available.
- support – as somebody taking on a new type of technology I think it important that there be LOTS of support available. I’m an avid supporter of paper documentation and as such I want books within my reach. Of the 3, WordPress led the pack with lots of options and more than 5 different books available on the subject. b2evolution fails here as there are NO books available for it.
- categories – I like to file things into different subject lines and areas of interest. As you may have noted already I have a lot of interests and hobbies – especially now that I am retired! So being able to categorize things is important to me. Nucleus fails here as it only supports one category.
This was enough information for me to get started and based on what I had found and read, there seemed to be, in my opinion, one clear winner… WordPress.