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

    Also, I do like Textpattern but not quite as much as EE. Templating engine is similar. But EE has more flexibilty built in without plugins. Also, EE’s documentation, user community, and support are extremely organized. Don’t take good documenation for granted especially. A system could be great, but if it’s not documented in a way a developer can use it who cares.

    0
  2. 52

    Last thing, look at the code you have to use for b2evolution to list the last 3 entries in a “blog”.

    ” title=””>

    get_item() )
    { ?>

    permalink() ?>” title=””>title( ”, ”, false ); ?>(issue_date() ?>)

    “>

    Take a look at EE:

    {exp:weblog:entries weblog=”blog1|blog2″ limit=”3″}

    {title}

    {body}

    Posted on {entry_date format=”%M %d, %Y – %h:%i %A”}

    {/exp:weblog:entries}

    enough said…

    0
  3. 103

    I’m looking for a really straightforward and simple cms. The primary need is to enable our partners to update their own websites. So the basic requirement is a multi-site capability. No fancy plugins needed. Simple and easy to use. Any suggestions?

    0
  4. 154

    eric-from-boston

    August 29, 2008 9:03 am

    what does smashing use for a platform?

    0
  5. 205

    I’m putting in my support for Textpattern. As stated, Textile is not required for writing blogs, but it makes it simpler to style text without having to explicitly know XHTML.

    If you know XHTML and CSS, you can go far with TXP to build any kind of site, whether for blogging or commerce or business or whatever. Easy to install, easy to use and completely free.

    ExpressionEngine looks promising as an alternative to TXP, but until they finish 2.0 and give users a file management system (already present in TXP), I’ll wait before I add it to my arsenal of CMS tools.

    0
  6. 256

    This is a post I’ve been waiting for for a while! I’m an avid user of WordPress at the moment for my little design/portfolio blog Make Design, Not War, but for a while I was hunting around madly for which engine to commit to.

    As a designer with a little programming experience (enough to build custom WP or EE themes at least), I really wanted something that would A) not require me to learn a ton of new information to setup and B) a platform that I could rely upon for easy content management once the site was built.

    I tried out Expression Engine for quite a while (and liked it) before deciding that the open source aspect and thriving growth of the WP theme and plugin community is a platform that I don’t mind committing to because of it’s flexibility – plus it’s free. In any event, thanks a ton for summing up the top 10 blogging platforms.

    As a side note, I love the UXMag site – one of the most unique blog designs I’ve seen. I only wish they updated their content more often – those articles have been pretty much the same on the front page sine last Feb as far as I can tell. Beautiful example of how far you can stretch a blog design.

    0
  7. 307

    @Gary Horsman:

    There already is a “File Manager Module” that would give this functionality. It’s a third party module but from what I understand, it’s solid and works like it’s suppose too.

    0
  8. 358

    Joomla is the worst. I’m surprised it was even considered – probably out of popularity, but that’s it.

    Joomla’s output code is so useless it’s not even funny. I had to build a custom Joomla-based website from scratch (I used both versions to test which one was better – neither of them were decent), and I can honestly say that those 5 days turned that week into the worst week of my career.

    Stay away from Joomla. Stay far far away.

    0
  9. 409

    As mentioned by some other people, Moveable Type is written in Perl and Dooce.com switched to Drupal a couple of months ago.

    0
  10. 460

    Thank You very much SmashMag

    But DotClear is very wonderfull as WordPress… but “français”

    a french webdesigner

    0
  11. 511

    You should also not BlogEngine that runs on ASP.NET. It is one of the simplest blogging engines to setup and use and you can create new themes for it in litlerally minutes.

    0
  12. 562

    Textpattern is not just a blogging system, It’s full CMS. You don’t have to learn Textile there is a WYSIWYG toolbar plugin that takes a seconds to install. It has a very solid community and dev team. The templating language is beautiful, great for those that don’t want to learn PHP. It’s by far my favourite CMS and i’ve tried them all.

    ExpressionEngine is also great for the bigger sites.

    0
  13. 613

    Expression Engine has a very feature-ful free version that I used to learn EE with. EE rocks.

    0
  14. 664

    b2evolution is a repulsive piece of shit. Completely unoptimized – if you have any level of traffic whatsover, you might as well send up smoke signals, b/c it will kill your server.

    0
  15. 715

    WordPress FOREVER!!!.. I dont think u should have to ever pay for blogging software. WordPress by far has exceeded its competitors obviously by being included in fantastico

    0
  16. 766

    err… and Blogger?

    0
  17. 817

    The link on Drupal – Joomla comparison is 1.5 yrs outdated and it doesn’t portray a true picture any more. A lot of progress has been made since on both systems and many points are not valid.

    Lots of readers will now be going through that article without realising the fact that some major parts are not accurate any longer.

    I’m surprised you have actually posted it, it’s misleading.

    0
  18. 868

    There is a typo in the DotClear link that breaks it, the ‘n’ should be removed.

    DotClear used to have a whole section translated in English for non French speakers, but it seems this section has not came back yet on their new website…

    0
  19. 919

    I’m a designer not a developer.

    I tried a few CMS’s for my design portfolio. I chose EE in the end, for flexibility, the amount of features, and ease of use for a non-developer.

    I would strongly recommend it to anyone.

    0
  20. 970

    I’ve used WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal from that list!

    0
  21. 1021

    Hello. It’s supposed to be Kevin Cornell, not Kornell with a K.

    0
  22. 1072

    I use ExpressionEngine for most of my development. Having tried almost all the others listed, I stuck with EE due to the fact that it acts almost more like a framework than an out of the box blogging system. I realize that may not appeal to a lot of people, but it’s helped me to build some pretty complicated sites without needing to take a refresher course in database development.

    This pretty much sums up my experience with it too.

    0
  23. 1123

    I would recommend Chyrp for small and simple blogs. Very clutter free and intuitive. A young product that has a lot of potential.

    0
  24. 1174

    Anyone else here have had to suffer through Plone? It’s the only CMS used where I work. Terrible.

    Love using WordPress for my personal projects.

    0
  25. 1225

    You should also considere sNews for example, altough it’s not meant to be strictly blog engine, it is so lightweight and versatile that a little advanced PHP developer can pretty much run anything on that. For example I have developed an ecommerce solution and a medicinal appointment solution for doctors on that. Everyone was thrilled about it.

    1
  26. 1276

    Nice review!!!
    I use a BlogEngine.NET in mi blog and is really nice, this is the creator’s url may you can make a review about they.
    http://www.dotnetblogengine.net/.
    Great!!

    0
  27. 1327

    Dooce is powered by Drupal, not movable type.

    0
  28. 1378

    Worth while review.

    There are sites here that I assumed were using WP, but they’re not!

    0
  29. 1429

    I really miss the blogging sofware ‘pivot’ in this list!

    0
  30. 1480

    And the best off all: Drupal is Made in Belgium!!

    0
  31. 1531

    One thing you must definitely consider, if you plan to build a popular site is code quality and security. Drupal for example has a strong focus on security also monitoring 3rd party extensions and fixing security vulnerabilities, when they are detected. This is something very valuable since a badly written add-on may ruin your server.
    Something else I deem important is search engine friendliness. Designers must be able to create templates that comply with Web standards and use semantic markup. There should also be support for speaking URLs built-in.
    When it comes to usability, editors without HTML knowledge should be able to create nice looking posts and integrate media such as images. In this regards WordPress excels and Drupal core can really be improved.

    0
  32. 1582

    I can’t believe Squarespace is missing from this list. They offer one of the more powerful engines and are unique in their ease to customize.

    1
  33. 1633

    Here is our blog engine for Joomla!, it names IDoBlog. You can see it on IDoJoomla.com

    0
  34. 1684

    sorry, wont do it again.

    0
  35. 1735

    The review of Joomla here (and in many of the comments) is highly inaccurate and outdated.

    We only use Joomla in our business also, but we don’t typically design sites to be blogs, we do work for businesses and organizations.

    Joomla as a blog platform exclusively might be a big of overkill, as Joomla is a CMS and quite robust. I’ve reviewed IDoBlog for the extensions directory (mentioned here in the comments) and it adds the multiple blogging features that Joomla previously was weak in.

    I’m surprised at this because I read Smashing Magazine regularly and the reviews are usually thorough and on-target.

    0
  36. 1786

    I find you can’t go wrong with wordpress.

    0
  37. 1837

    the cms matrix link is wrong it’s .org not .com

    0
  38. 1888

    For me the WordsPress is the favorite but withhut any doubt that there is more powerful engines for runing of blogs or web site.

    0
  39. 1939

    The Joomla VS Drupal list is from 2006! Not very reliable to base your choice for a cms right now.
    Check your resources first please!

    0
  40. 1990

    its got to bee wordpress with all the coders that work together and help with plugins and now that they have updated newer things it just gets better and better… mines powered by wordpress and its pretty nice and simple.. to manage and to look at.. trcwest.com/blog/

    0
  41. 2041

    Ey! Great listing! I found it very useful to redirect people that contacts me about blog designs. I usually recommend WordPress right away, but it’s nice for them to see a good article abut the topic and try out well to see what fills out more their needs!
    Thanks a lot guys!
    Gisele Jaquenod and Birdie’s Blog

    0
  42. 2092

    This site uses WordPress too, right?

    0
  43. 2143

    yeah why did staff not mention what this site runs on?

    0
  44. 2194

    @namdatviet,

    Yeah, i think smashing magazine use wordpress !!

    0
  45. 2245

    Tumblr anyone?

    0
  46. 2296
  47. 2347

    Take Wikidot, it is simply the best. Despite that the default skins suck

    0
  48. 2398

    What about blogger.com????????? I can’t believe it’s not even in there

    0
  49. 2449

    very nice article

    0
  50. 2500

    Nice story!!!!!!! Like it.

    0

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