10 Weblog Engines Reviewed

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Choosing blogging software can be a scary process, especially if you are new to blogging. There are many different types of engines and content management systems (CMS) that could be used. Picking the software that you’ll need is not an easy task, given the wide variety and types on the Web today.

There are many different aspects to consider when choosing which blogging software to pick. For instance:

  • Programming language.
    Many blog platforms run on either PHP or Rails, but you can find just about any flavor of programming language you are looking for.
  • What features you’ll need.
    The type of software you might choose is very dependent on the type of blog you are going to run. Some blog software is geared more towards new users, while others are more developer and designer friendly. It’s a matter of finding software based on the features you need.
  • The size of the software’s community.
    If the software community is larger for one blogging system and much smaller and less active than another, the more active community is usually a better choice for software. More active users within the development community means more improvements on the code base, in a faster time frame.
  • The age of the software.
    The age of the software shows the maturity of the blogging platform. Young projects are more unstable, and are more likely to have bugs.
  • If you are planning on extending the blog.
    If you are thinking about adding things like forums, a store, or some other feature to your blog, some blogging software will be more suited to fill that need than others.

The blog software that you choose can have a big impact on your blogging. It’s important to choose the right software in the very beginning, so you can avoid the hassle of migrating to different engine later on. Here are the pros and cons of the 10 most popular blogging systems.

1. WordPress

WordPress1 is the most famous and widely-used blogging platform. It features a very intuitive web-based installer so anyone from skill level novice to expert can quickly install the software without any hiccups.

The WordPress community is a major asset to the blogging software. It has one of the largest and most passionate communities of developers and users2, so one could find just about any theme or plugin imaginable. The possibilities for extending the software are endless, and many web sites and services have used the WordPress code base to build entirely different applications. WordPress also features integration with Akismet3, one of the most effective spam protection systems for blogging software.

wordpress4

WordPress makes it easy for new bloggers to not only install the software, but also to download and install automatic upgrades to plugins with only one click. The learning curve for WordPress is fairly minimal, and if a new user runs in to problems, they can always check the extensive documentation5. WordPress is perfect for the new blogger who wants to get his feet wet installing their first blog software, or the advanced developer who’s looking to extend the stable code into something entirely different.

If you are wanting to start a multiple-blog site, you can also check out WordPress MU6. WordPress MU is the same code base as the mature WordPress single blog code base, with some added functionality.

Sites powered by WordPress

Web Designer Wall

Screenshot7

I Love Typography

Screenshot8

Binary Moon

Screenshot9

Superflous Banter

Screenshot10

2. Movable Type

While WordPress is the most widely-adopted blogging platform, Movable Type11 has the most prolific installs of high-traffic blogs. Their high-profile installs include (and certainly aren’t limited to) Huffington Post12 (the most popular blog on the Web), Gawker blogs13 (Lifehacker, Gizmodo, etc.), BoingBoing14 and dooce15.

movable type16

A major reason for so many high-profile sites using Movable Type is the built-in support for multiple blogs running on one install. You can quickly create as many blogs as you wish, creating blog networks like Huffington Post and Gawker instantly.

While Moveable Type has historically been a step behind WordPress in terms user friendliness, Movable Type has made great strides to improve their interface and installer, and possibly the biggest step forward recently was moving the platform to open source17. This has grown the community18 considerably.

Movable Type is a great choice if you are wanting to run multiple blogs or a blog network with the software that can handle large amounts of traffic.

Sites powered by Movable Type

Kevin Kornell

Screenshot19

Cameron Moll

Screenshot20

Dave Shea

Screenshot21

Dan Cederholm

Screenshot22

3. ExpressionEngine

ExpressionEngine23 is a very robust blogging platform, but isn’t free. The best feature about ExpressionEngine is the feature to publish multiple websites, either using different subdomains on a single domain, or across multiple domains.

You could use one code base to power multiple sites across multiple domains. The software features an extremely clean and simple backend that shouldn’t confuse the blogger. Designers and developers love ExpressionEngine for the fact that it’s quite easy to hand over a site and have the client update his own blog. It’s a solid all-in-one package.

expression engine24

ExpressionEngine is really geared for people who are trying to start a multi-blog site, but anyone can use the software quite easily thanks to its thoughtful and elegant design. A single license costs $99.95, but if you’re running a personal blog you can download25 the core version of EE.

Sites powered by Expression Engine

Jesse Bennett-Chamberlain

Screenshot26

Veerle Pieters

Screenshot27

4. Drupal

Drupal28 isn’t your typical blogging software. While it has an incredible community behind the code and many blogs use it for blogging software, it’s not just blogging software. Drupal is community software.

Drupal really shines as blog software for a blogging community. Performancing3229 is a great example of using Drupal as a community of blogs. Whether you are wanting to power one blog to a 100, Drupal is an excellent choice.

drupal30

Another strong point about Drupal is the versatility of the software. It comes packaged with a robust user system, but also a lot of community-friendly features like forums, books (for creating documents in a “book” structure) and a tracker which allows you to follow updates and content that other users have published recently.

Drupal also comes with a large community of developers and modules31. With these modules, one could build any type of site or add nearly any sort of functionality to their Drupal installation. Many top-notch sites use Drupal to publish their multiple blogs and user communities. Performancing3229, Spread Firefox33, The Onion34, and Ubuntu35 and others.

Drupal is the perfect blogging software for anyone wanting to add a community to their blog with forums and extensions.

Sites powered by Drupal

43 Folders

43 Folders36

Abduzeedo

Abduzeedo37

5. Textpattern

Textpattern38 is a much simpler blogging platform than any of the above mentioned software. It isn’t even packaged with a WYSIWYG editor, and instead relies on the Textile39 markup language to format the text.

Textpattern is very similar to ExpressionEngine, except without many of the features that ExpressionEngine provides out of the box. (You can read more about the differences between the two blog platforms40.) While Textpattern is a stable, mature piece of software, it’s not the top choice for beginners, as they have to learn the Textile language or write posts in html. If they’re wanting to have a WYSIWYG editor, they’ll have to install the plugin, as it’s not provided by defaul.t

textpattern41

There are plenty of themes and extensions42, and while the developer community isn’t as large as WordPress’s, Textpattern has an extremely loyal and dedicated developer community.

Textpattern is a great choice for a more advanced blogger who appreciates simplicity and doesn’t mind learning Textile.

Sites powered by Textpattern

Hicksdesign

Screenshot43

UX Magazine

Screenshot44

NZRN

Screenshot45

Erratic Wisdom

Screenshot46

6. Joomla

Joomla47 is a CMS that is similar to the community-friendly Drupal, and gaining traction every day. While Drupal is geared more towards developing community-flavored sites and blogs, Joomla seems to be geared more towards ecommerce (you can read more about the comparison between Joomla and Drupal here48).

joomla49

Regardless of their differences, Joomla is very much like Drupal in the fact that it’s easy to get anything from a simple site to a community blog in minutes. Joomla has a vibrant development community which has created many extensions50.

Joomla is perfect for anyone wanting to build a blogging community site, or add ecommerce functionality to a blog.

7. b2evolution

b2evolution51 is another blogging platform that allows for a single installation of a blog, or a whole network of blogs, right out of the box. b2 probably has the weakest developer community behind it, with only a 200+ plugins (compared to Joomla’s 3,400+).

While the b2 developer community may not be very large, it has a very promising code base and many people still use b2evolution to power their blogs and blogger communities.

b2evolution52

The software features a very easy-to-understand backend, ideal for beginners. b2 also has has a built in stats feature, which is something most blogging platforms don’t have out of the box. The software also features a post editor with a very minimal WYSIWYG editor, which is perfect for a beginning blogger.

8. Nucleus CMS

Nucleus53 is yet another single or multi-blog/multi-author blogging software package. It is fairly comparable to b2evolution in terms of features and development community, and has a list of fairly extensive and useful plugins and themes54 that can be added to customize any installation.

nucleus55

Nucleus has a much more polished look and feel than b2evolution, and the backend area is simple and clean. Also, Nucleus has a much more active release schedule than b2, which means the code is more actively worked on. Here’s a demo site56 if you are wanting to play around with the software before trying to download57 it.

Nucleus is a great blog platform for anyone needing a straightforward blogging platform for one or more blogs.

9. Serendipity

Serendipity58 takes pride in the fact that it is a beginner-friendly blogging platform. Serendipity keeps your plugins59 up-to-date by automatically checking the plugin repository online and downloading the updated version if needed from a fairly extensive library of user-contributed plugins. The software also features nested and threaded commenting, which many blog platforms don’t support without a plugin of some sort.

60

Serendipity uses the high-performance Smarty templating system61, and makes use of fast and clean PHP code under the hood. If you are a new blogger, Serendipity offers a setup wizard that makes blog installation a breeze. Unlike b2evolution or Nucleus, Serendipity doesn’t offer a multiple blogs with just one installation, but you can have multiple users to the single blog installation.

10. Mephisto

Up until this point, we haven’t even mentioned any blog software that runs on any other language other than PHP. Mephisto blogging software62 is blogging software built on Rails. Mephisto offers a very clean look to the backend, and has an intuitive feel to it. You can control every aspect of the look of Mephisto with the built-in template editor, without the help of FTP clients.

mephisto63

There isn’t much in terms of extra themes or plugins to help with customizing the blog’s layout or functionality. Mephisto is more of a bare-bones blogging software that up until recently64 hasn’t been developed too extensively.

Mephisto is more of a blogging platform for designers and web developers who are able to create their own themes and plugins to customize the site. Beginners might fare better trying WordPress or Movable Type. These two popular blogging platforms make customization easier with all of the plugins and different themes offered.

Honorable Mentions

Here are a few blogging systems that weren’t included that deserve mentioning.

  • Dotclear65
    Dotclear is a French blogging platform that is also offered in English. It supports multiple blogs with one installation, and offers a very user-friendly backend.
  • Symphony66
    Symphony is a “web developers” blogging platform. It’s based in xml/xslt, so it requires a bit of a learning curve. Symphony is highly versatile and customizable, and perfect for the advanced blogger wanting fine-grain control over the site.
  • Habari67
    Habari is an up-and-coming modern blog platform that focuses on tackling at the core level many of the shortcomings that other blogging software communities have tried to address with add-ons. Habari prides itself in being standards compliant and more secure than other blogging platforms.
  • Pixie68
    Pixie is a small CMS that allows for fast creation of websites or blogs. It’s simple, easy to use, and free. It features a beautiful backend, with easy to understand navigation and layout.

Other Resources For Choosing Blogging Software

Glen Stansberry writes for the web development blog Web Jackalope79 (his blog’s feed80).

Footnotes

  1. 1 http://www.wordpress.org
  2. 2 http://wordpress.org/support/
  3. 3 http://wwww.akismet.com
  4. 4 http://www.wordpress.org
  5. 5 http://codex.wordpress.org/Main_Page
  6. 6 http://mu.wordpress.org
  7. 7 http://www.webdesignerwall.com/
  8. 8 http://ilovetypography.com/
  9. 9 http://www.binarymoon.co.uk/
  10. 10 http://superfluousbanter.org/archives/2007/04/web-20-cultists/
  11. 11 http://www.movabletype.org
  12. 12 http://www.huffingtonpost.com
  13. 13 http://www.gawker.com
  14. 14 http://www.boingboing.net
  15. 15 http://www.dooce.com
  16. 16 http://www.movabletype.org
  17. 17 http://www.movabletype.org/2007/12/movable_type_open_source.html
  18. 18 http://wiki.movabletype.org/MovableType:Community_Portal
  19. 19 http://www.bearskinrug.co.uk
  20. 20 http://www.cameronmoll.com
  21. 21 http://www.mezzoblue.com
  22. 22 http://www.simplebits.com
  23. 23 http://www.expressionengine.com
  24. 24 http://www.expressionengine.com/
  25. 25 https://secure.expressionengine.com/download.php
  26. 26 http://31three.com/weblog
  27. 27 http://veerle.duoh.com
  28. 28 http://www.drupal.org
  29. 29 http://www.performancing.com
  30. 30 http://www.drupal.org
  31. 31 http://drupal.org/project/Modules
  32. 32 http://www.performancing.com
  33. 33 http://www.spreadfirefox.com
  34. 34 http://www.theonion.com
  35. 35 http://www.ubuntu.com
  36. 36 http://www.43folders.com
  37. 37 http://www.abduzeedo.com
  38. 38 http://www.textpattern.com
  39. 39 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Textile_(markup_language)
  40. 40 http://www.hicksdesign.co.uk/journal/expression-engine-vs-textpattern
  41. 41 http://www.textpattern.com
  42. 42 http://www.textpattern.org
  43. 43 http://www.hicksdesign.co.uk
  44. 44 http://www.uxmag.com/
  45. 45 http://www.nzrn.com/
  46. 46 http://www.erraticwisdom.com/
  47. 47 http://www.joomla.org
  48. 48 http://www.alledia.com/blog/general-cms-issues/joomla-and-drupal-%11-which-one-is-right-for-you?/
  49. 49 http://www.joomla.org
  50. 50 http://extensions.joomla.org/
  51. 51 http://b2evolution.net/
  52. 52 http://b2evolution.net/
  53. 53 http://www.nucleuscms.org/
  54. 54 http://wakka.xiffy.nl/plugin_by_category
  55. 55 http://www.nucleuscms.org/
  56. 56 http://demo.nucleuscms.org/
  57. 57 http://nucleuscms.org/download.php
  58. 58 http://www.s9y.org/
  59. 59 http://spartacus.s9y.org/
  60. 60 http://www.s9y.org/
  61. 61 http://smarty.net
  62. 62 http://mephistoblog.com/
  63. 63 http://mephistoblog.com/
  64. 64 http://mephistoblog.com/2008/4/18/mephisto-hits-0-8-moves-to-github
  65. 65 http://www.dotclear.net
  66. 66 http://21degrees.com.au/products/symphony/
  67. 67 http://habariproject.org/en/
  68. 68 http://www.getpixie.co.uk/
  69. 69 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weblog_software
  70. 70 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_content_management_systems
  71. 71 http://www.cmsmatrix.com
  72. 72 http://www.opensourcecms.com/
  73. 73 http://welovewp.com/
  74. 74 http://movablelove.com/
  75. 75 http://expressionengine.com/showcase/
  76. 76 http://www.drupalsites.net/
  77. 77 http://welovetxp.com/
  78. 78 http://www.joomlabased.com/
  79. 79 http://webjackalope.com
  80. 80 http://feeds.feedburner.com/WebJackalope

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Glen Stansberry is the editor at Web Jackalope, a blog about creative Web development.

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  1. 1

    Mentioned before, but still want to mention the lack of pivot or pivotx. I think pivotx offers some great features I find missing in other platforms. They are just not as much used as other platforms.

    1
  2. 102

    Very interesting article indeed. Would’ve been good to see some example sites for the blog software featured further down the list, did the author just get a little tired?

    0
  3. 203

    Blogger is not in the list because it’s an hosted solution. But if you want my opinion, I think it’s great!

    0
  4. 304

    ExpressionEngine rocks. Its not only a blog plataform, its liek a really CMS framework.
    You dont mentioned with the backend can be easily customized, removing all unecessary stuff.

    EE 2.0 will be a CMS killer…

    0
    • 405

      SymphonyCMS tends to provide all of these benefits, except that both the CMS and the extensions are free – it’s actually quite comparable, but better (IMO of course).

      0
  5. 506

    Very useful article. Thanks a lot!. This last week I´ve trying to figure out which platform I should use to open my first blog and it was making my heading. Now I know what to look at. Thanks a lot.
    And… what about an article on tumblelogs??? do you have any? I think it´ll be nice to hear something about it too.

    0
  6. 607

    WordPress is my fav, easy to navigate, cool skin, and freee :D

    0
  7. 708

    Marcello, referring to comment #130 above when you say you don’t include Blogger because it’s a hosted solution, that is plain wrong. Blogger is the same as WordPress; one can be hosted on the native service or be migrated to one’s domain. Ditto for Typepad.

    0
  8. 809

    Glad to see Symphony getting some good exposure! Love that platform more than any other.

    1
    • 910

      I agree! Although I wouldn’t describe it as a ‘blogging platform’ – more of a CMS framework. I think the description SM applied next to it is accurate. Your average Joe isn’t going to be able to easily deploy a blog with it – however if you’re building a blog from scratch then it provides a framework that enables you to do a lot more than WP, without it feeling like you’re bolting inappropriate content into the wrong platform.

      Best CMS available in my humble opinion – all the power with none of the crap.

      0
  9. 1011

    What about modX CMS system is that worth mentioning?

    0
  10. 1213

    A very nice and useful article.

    0
  11. 1314

    I think Habari is the next big thing in blogging engine.

    0
  12. 1415

    ZOMG
    People WP is first and Joomla is second ffs!

    0
  13. 1516

    Have tried a fair few of these, ModX not being mentioned is not that surprising, its still not that well known, besides its far far more than a simple blogging tool. I use it to build large and complicated sites all the time, makes my life simple.

    0
  14. 1617

    Chyrp chyrp!

    0
  15. 1718

    Being a designer – wordpress has been a fantastic product – allowing to create indepth websites relatively easily without messing too much with the code – and the community support out there is just fantastic.

    I used Joomla before WP but found it over complicated and the structure of the system just over-complicated it for no apparent reason what so ever. I ended up using freelancers to finish what i had started! Ate away my profit margins!

    There is another blogging system which has been clearly missed on the lists and comments – mainly due to it being rather underground – but Chyrp is a fantastic lightweight blogging engine with a real super duper easy to use admin backend – fantastic for the clients who are scared of computers!

    I haven’t published a site using the engine yet – but will make sure it will be my next project for sure!

    Without sounding cheesey – but the only way to make such projects better – is just spreading the word and developing on it as a community!

    Cheers

    Gill.

    0
  16. 1819

    Movable Type is a great platform – easy to use – powerful…

    small typo though – it’s not MovEable Type –

    While Moveable Type has historically

    0
  17. 1920

    Mario from venice

    September 7, 2008 5:26 am

    I think a cool cms is also indexibit

    0
  18. 2021

    Big ups to Textpattern. It is free and insanely flexible. I am powering my personal site off of it now and am working on a redesign.

    The textpattern community is great also. Very helpul and friendly. I am anxiously awaiting the next txp release 4.0.7.

    0
  19. 2122

    In South Korea, Tattertools(or Textcube since v1.5) is most famous and cool engine.

    0
  20. 2223

    What about Life Type platform? I like it a lot but noone mentions it…

    0
  21. 2324

    Nothing beats WordPress. It’s easy to use, and flexible. I also like Drupal.. These two are really cool CMS to use. Thanks for sharing these stuffs..

    0
  22. 2425

    YOu people have to understand… there is a difference to a CMS and a Blog (LEARN THE DIFFERENCE)

    0
  23. 2526

    As said before, I would also recommend “PivotX” because it’s doesn’t have an overload of features in it which you’ll never use. Therefore it’s easy to configure, with a great template system, and for the enduser it’s easy to use, even for dummies. Pivotx is a completely rewritten version of the Pivot weblog tool, it’s now also database driven (or flat file if you wish). I use it for weblogs and for website content management. But the most important thing is that I can setup website in a very short time, and because it’s so clearly written, you can make changes fast.

    0
  24. 2627

    Which CMS? That is the focus of my Masters. I have struggled with this and investigated 3. Drupal – good when you know but not easy to template and control minor details, WordPress – very good but limited to blogging and a plugin pain to get to to do otherwise and Expression Engine, amazing, more work but more control over the others and I feel anything is possible. Community is more responsive than Drupals where my cries for help were burried under the shear submission volume.

    Actually I wanted to float an idea. For my masters by research in which CMS I thought it might be more interesting to watch a video of many systems being demonstrated from install up. There would be a basic page design and content to implement, so we would see 1 design + functionality implemented by people who know them well.

    These videos would give instant visual comparison without the focus being on feature compare… CMS matrix does that already. I am interested in the personal experience and development of building a site. I would host and maintain the site.

    Anyone interested?

    Lance

    0
  25. 2728

    Eli Witherspoon

    March 3, 2009 7:42 am

    I can second the negative comments on Joomla. I have coded nearly 200 sites on Joomla because of my employer’s preference and it is by far the worst system listed. (I wouldn’t have even listed it, it’s so bad.) Joomla might have 3,400+ add-ons available, but to any coder who knows his stuff they are mostly complete garbage. This is a perfect example of the open source community failing to quality check the add-ons. Anything goes on Joomla.org! Also, the code base and back-end management is so poorly done it’s laughable. When you start finding misspellings in the backend, that’s a sign to stay away from the system. IMO, using Joomla is a lame excuse for someone who doesn’t know how to code or take the time to learn a good system.

    I would recommend you stay far far away from Joomla as well.

    0
  26. 2829

    We need to delve a little more in the problem.

    0
  27. 2930

    WordPress is working efficiently and quickly. There is, however, for any use.
    Cameron Moll is a very interesting solution. This is a good template.
    It is clear, clean, functional.

    0
  28. 3031

    very nice ,Great article thank you.

    0
  29. 3132

    Nice post, very informative. Thank you…

    Oh by the way, how come some of my comments powered by wordpress are being discarded? I have followed the policies and i think my comments are nice. And its not a scam. Why o why dont they want to post it? Im sad…

    0
  30. 3233

    This brings back to mind something funny that my father would always say…
    Then its definitely not appropriate just now…

    0
  31. 3334

    I miss some destinguishments…

    type of user (personal, non-profit, community, professional)
    php knowledge required (yes/no)
    html/css knowledge required (yes/no)
    learing curve (1-5)
    templates available (appr. 1-x)
    price
    documentation quality (1-5)
    updating process ease (1-5)
    server requirements (apache, IIE..)
    database requirement (mysql, oracle…)
    customizable (1-5)
    add-ons available (1-x)

    I personally use expression engine. it’s an absolut fantasic cms! it has a very steep learning curve and is not free, but once you know how to use it, you won’t use any other cms again. it has only a few templates and a few add-ons. most of it can be handeld by expression engine itself.

    for professionals I would only recommend expression engine or drupal…
    cheers
    s

    1
  32. 3435

    I tried Drupal, Joomla, WordPress and Typepad out. My choice fell on: WordPress. Easy, simple and verry nice.

    thanks for the great contribution he has helped me a lot! I am very proud of the result.

    0
  33. 3637

    Good preview!

    0
  34. 3738

    I think blogger is not just for free host blogs…I’ve used it before with my own domains.. Its great, but wp for me is greater :) .wp is the pimp..

    0
  35. 3839

    I’m looking for a multiple blog engine for my ecommerce site to allow customers to make their own cooking blogs. I will also of course have some paid bloggers plus affiliates.

    Any advice?

    Nofia

    0
  36. 3940

    Thanks so much…

    0
  37. 4041

    Thanks for pointing out “Pixie”. Its just what I need. I am fed up of full fledged systems like drupal, wordpress, joomla because you have to learn a lot to write even a small modification.

    0
  38. 4142

    Is blogengine superior to hubpages in some manner? Really needs to be because it is becoming more popluar as of late.

    0
  39. 4243

    Very nice Post i like it

    0
  40. 4344

    Well… that’s the way to go!

    0
  41. 4445

    Nice article, very helpful.

    Just wanted to tell that the CMS Matrix link is broken (it should point to .net, not .com)

    0
  42. 4546

    Great post! Thanks for the great article,I really like it.

    0
  43. 4647

    Thank you for the very detailed article and the CMS platform comparison. I chose Wordpess a long time ago.

    0
  44. 4748

    Nice article, a little outdated though. B2evolution is being abandoned and there are new comers like posterous.com

    0
  45. 4849

    Haja Peer Mohamed H

    June 7, 2011 6:23 am

    Excellent post! and lots of choice to choose! thanks for sharing!

    0
  46. 4950

    I <3 WordPress :)

    1
  47. 5051

    Mica Piepenbrink

    August 22, 2011 2:35 pm

    Great information it is really. I’ve been awaiting for this tips.

    0
  48. 5152

    “Up until this point, we haven’t even mentioned any blog software that runs on any other language other than PHP”

    Yes you have :)
    Movable Type runs on perl :)

    -1
  49. 5253

    Nice article! WordPress is an easy and flexible CMS to use!

    0

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