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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 Link

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 Link

Web Designer Wall

Screenshot7

I Love Typography

Screenshot8

Binary Moon

Screenshot9

Superflous Banter

Screenshot10

2. Movable Type Link

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 Link

Kevin Kornell

Screenshot19

Cameron Moll

Screenshot20

Dave Shea

Screenshot21

Dan Cederholm

Screenshot22

3. ExpressionEngine Link

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 download the core version of EE.

Sites powered by Expression Engine Link

Jesse Bennett-Chamberlain

Screenshot25

Veerle Pieters

Screenshot26

4. Drupal Link

Drupal27 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. Performancing3128 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.

drupal29

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 modules30. 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. Performancing3128, Spread Firefox32, The Onion33, and Ubuntu34 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 Link

43 Folders

43 Folders35

Abduzeedo

Abduzeedo36

5. Textpattern Link

Textpattern37 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 Textile38 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 platforms39.) 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

textpattern40

There are plenty of themes and extensions41, 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 Link

Hicksdesign

Screenshot42

UX Magazine

Screenshot43

NZRN

Screenshot

Erratic Wisdom

Screenshot44

6. Joomla Link

Joomla45 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 here).

joomla46

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 extensions47.

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

7. b2evolution Link

b2evolution48 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.

b2evolution49

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 Link

Nucleus50 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 themes that can be added to customize any installation.

nucleus51

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 site if you are wanting to play around with the software before trying to download52 it.

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

9. Serendipity Link

Serendipity53 takes pride in the fact that it is a beginner-friendly blogging platform. Serendipity keeps your plugins 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.

54

Serendipity uses the high-performance Smarty templating system55, 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 Link

Up until this point, we haven’t even mentioned any blog software that runs on any other language other than PHP. Mephisto blogging software56 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.

mephisto57

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 recently58 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 Link

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

  • Habari59
    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.
  • Pixie60
    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 Link

Glen Stansberry writes for the web development blog Web Jackalope68 (his blog’s feed69).

Footnotes Link

  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 http://31three.com/weblog
  26. 26 http://veerle.duoh.com
  27. 27 http://www.drupal.org
  28. 28 http://www.performancing.com
  29. 29 http://www.drupal.org
  30. 30 http://drupal.org/project/Modules
  31. 31 http://www.performancing.com
  32. 32 http://www.spreadfirefox.com
  33. 33 http://www.theonion.com
  34. 34 http://www.ubuntu.com
  35. 35 http://www.43folders.com
  36. 36 http://www.abduzeedo.com
  37. 37 http://www.textpattern.com
  38. 38 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Textile_(markup_language)
  39. 39 http://www.hicksdesign.co.uk/journal/expression-engine-vs-textpattern
  40. 40 http://www.textpattern.com
  41. 41 http://www.textpattern.org
  42. 42 http://www.hicksdesign.co.uk
  43. 43 http://www.uxmag.com/
  44. 44 http://www.erraticwisdom.com/
  45. 45 http://www.joomla.org
  46. 46 http://www.joomla.org
  47. 47 http://extensions.joomla.org/
  48. 48 http://b2evolution.net/
  49. 49 http://b2evolution.net/
  50. 50 http://www.nucleuscms.org/
  51. 51 http://www.nucleuscms.org/
  52. 52 http://nucleuscms.org/download.php
  53. 53 http://www.s9y.org/
  54. 54 http://www.s9y.org/
  55. 55 http://smarty.net
  56. 56 http://mephistoblog.com/
  57. 57 http://mephistoblog.com/
  58. 58
  59. 59 http://habariproject.org/en/
  60. 60 http://www.getpixie.co.uk/
  61. 61 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weblog_software
  62. 62 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_content_management_systems
  63. 63 http://www.opensourcecms.com/
  64. 64 http://welovewp.com/
  65. 65 http://expressionengine.com/showcase/
  66. 66 http://www.drupalsites.net/
  67. 67 http://welovetxp.com/
  68. 68 http://webjackalope.com
  69. 69 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

    Great article!
    Never heard of Movable Type. Gonna try that one time:)

    -1
  2. 2

    There is one unique software “YikeSite” written in Rails and has one of the easiest interface. But comes as a Self hosted app. which enables all kind of users to manage pages easily, and lets a n00b to run his own website. And Still on the phase of development
    http://yikesite.com

    0
  3. 3

    Really nice post but what about Php-fusion? In my opnion it is just as good as many of the above menhtioned CMS systems

    -2
  4. 4

    dotclear is french which doesn’t help the userfriendlyness….

    -1
  5. 5

    Textpattern doesn’t “rely” on textile. You can of course, write in HTML or install the TinyMCE extension and enter content in a word processor like interface.

    -1
  6. 6

    Erenon: MovableType is built with PHP and Perl AFAIK.

    -1
  7. 7

    Just to let you know, the url for Movable Type above is broken (has a space in it)

    -1
  8. 8

    There are also a lot of other blogging engine written with other languages, like Ruby or .NET.
    You should mention them as well sometimes

    0
  9. 9

    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.

    -1
  10. 10

    From the server-side, I really like Pivot.
    It is php-based, but writes to files. No SQL-Server needed.

    -1
  11. 11

    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.

    In a list of 10 items is 90% PHP (9 items) and 10% RoR (1 item). Now that is convincing that most run on either PHP or Rails. That opening trashed my whole opinion about this article.

    It’s terrible article!!!

    0
  12. 12

    kamikaze.cockroach

    August 29, 2008 4:30 am

    Another site powered by Expression Engine is Barack Obama’s campaign site.

    Expression Engine 2.0 is being built from Code Igniter which is completely Open Source and community driven.

    -1
  13. 13

    Amanda Fazani

    August 29, 2008 4:31 am

    I’m shocked that Blogger didn’t even get a mention in this list! Next to WordPress, this is one of the most popular (and documented) Blogging services, used by millions of Bloggers all over the world.

    Is there a particular reason (or bias) why Blogger was not included?

    -1
  14. 14

    Movable Type is written in Perl not Python. Also if you use dynamic publishing it uses php.

    -1
  15. 15

    I’m a little surprised that MODx didn’t make the list. Very flexible, easy to install, suitable for both novices and developers, and allows for complete custom application development.

    Definitely worth a look!

    -2
  16. 16

    dotclear is french which doesn’t help the userfriendlyness….

    @jbcarey :
    DotClear has always been available in English, since its beginning, and in a lot of other languages. I’m really surprised not to see it in this list.

    -1
  17. 17

    Michael Thompson

    August 29, 2008 5:34 am

    Joomla is terrible.

    -1
  18. 18

    Great overview! I’m a serious WordPress fan though.

    -1
  19. 19

    I use Habari – the Admin interface is superb, the article editor simple and uncluttered and a variety of themes and plugins support all the key functionality required for a blog.

    While Habari has some rough edges, it is actively being worked on with new features being added daily. Don’t be deceived by the 0.5 – Habari is perfectly capable of running a blog – today.

    -1
  20. 20

    Alex Willcocks

    August 29, 2008 3:34 am

    Nice article – interesting to see what platforms different sites run on!

    0
  21. 21

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

    0
  22. 23

    nice post…. i think it’s very hard to get wordpress from it’ throne… but movable type is doing a good job so far.

    0
  23. 24

    ExpressionEngine is really geared for people who are trying to start a multi-blog site

    Expression Engine is geared towards the simple brochure site, through single blogs, simple ecommerce to multiple sites to whatever you need to publish. As their site says, ‘Publish Your Universe’, not matter how big or small it is.

    And they do have a free version, if you are setting up a non-commercial, personal blog.

    The beauty of Expression Engine is that it allows you to expand when you need to because the functionality to do so is built in, thus removing the need for endless hacking around with plugins that other blogging-only platforms have.

    Interesting article overall, but seems to lack evidence of proper research.

    0
  24. 25

    I’ve recently switched from Textpattern to Expression Engine after almost 3 years. They both have a really easy to use templatingsystem which is great if you build your own themes. WordPress has a steeper learning curve when it comes to custom themes.

    The reason why I switched from Txp to EE is because Txp lacks a lot of functionality and is not as flexible as EE. With EE you can customise the new post interface to your liking. For instance, adding a second text area is a real pain with Txp (it requires some hacking in the code), but with EE it’s really simple.

    Another big plus is that EE is more complete. Although Txp has a lot of great plugins, you simply need less with EE.

    So if you’re building a more complicated (magazine like) website, you’re definately better off with EE. If you’re looking for a reliable, fast and free cms, you will probably do just fine with Txp!

    0
  25. 26

    Remington Phillips

    August 29, 2008 4:46 am

    Thanks for the great article Glen.

    I’ve been thinking about starting a blog for my network of websites, so your roundup has helped me figure out “who’s who” in the blog software game.

    0
  26. 27

    besides assigning one article to multiple categories and having sub sections and categories, joomla is the only way to go. Even wordpress is a joke comparing to Joomla!

    0
  27. 28

    Great reference! Thanks for the excelente job!

    0
  28. 29

    Frédéric de Villamil

    August 29, 2008 5:15 am

    Funny to see Mephisto here as it’s not a blogging software but more a CMS. And btw, there is a much more active, old and complete blogging software in ruby on rails with plugins and lots of very nice themes. It’s called Typo

    0
  29. 30

    As often in english spoken article, few interest is given to the internationalization stake. One of the big disadvantages of the blog platforms you present is the lack of full internationalization.

    DocClear, a french blog engine, is really a good choice with very few bugs, a great stability and a good internationalization. The version 2 has just been released. Give it a try, it worths it.

    Thanks for this very good article either.

    0
  30. 31

    Nope, MT runs Perl

    0
  31. 32

    b2evolution is a good bloggin app.

    0
  32. 33

    Mr Mouse Anony

    August 29, 2008 6:06 am

    vBulletin appears to have an official addon to add a full featured blog software to your online community forum.

    0
  33. 34

    You don’t mention Habari, why not? It’s a very nice new blogging application, that is quickly growing into the platform that WordPress was supposed to be, but without making the same mistakes. It’s focus on usability, good design and a sane architecture, combined with being community-driven, make Habari a winner in my book.

    Also it should be noted that several popular packages such as Joomla and WordPress are continuously encumbered by security issues.

    0
  34. 35

    I know this has already been said, but this article did not mention blogger.com…

    0
  35. 36

    @ erenon: it would be great, if mt would be programmed in python. unfortunately it’s the read-only perl.

    0
  36. 37

    Deron Sizemore

    August 29, 2008 6:42 am

    ExpressionEngine is really geared for people who are trying to start a multi-blog site

    I disagree with the above statement. That is definitely one of it’s pluses with the “Multi Site Manager” but definitely not who EE is targeted for. I’d venture to say that majority of EE users do not have a multi-blog site.

    As was said above, they also have the free “Core” version of EE, so it’s not just a paid platform. I run two sites with the free “Core” version.

    0
  37. 38

    Another Expression Engine user.
    It is so much more than a blogging tool, I have built several sites on it due to the flexibility of the way you can store and access data. You can create multiple data fields and customize them in many ways.
    It is a framework that you use to build custom sites, rather than just another weblog.

    0
  38. 39

    I think your summary of ExpressionEngine was really shortsighted, and I’m sure thousands would agree with me. ExpressionEngine isn’t primarily geared for multiple-site blogs — that’s just a simple feature. It’s REALLY geared for mind-blowly flexible content management. Sure, it does blogs well. Ridiculously well in fact. But due to the nature of it’s expression tag system, it allows someone without knowledge of PHP actually build out custom features and functionality right into the HTML/CSS. The sky is pretty much the limit in the type of site you want to build.

    It really fits for nearly 95% of all client work in my case — full corporate sites right down to a simple blog, all easy, all flexible. I recommend everyone checking it out!

    0
  39. 40

    You should check out Symphony. It’s XML/XSLT based, so the learning curve is a bit steep. It’s more of a full CMS rather than a blog engine, but can do blogs easily. Verson 2 is almost out of beta and rocks. My current fav CMS — and I’ve used a lot!

    0
  40. 41

    Nollind Whachell

    August 29, 2008 7:34 am

    I’m assuming this review was for non-hosted blogging solutions, since platforms like Typepad and Squarespace aren’t listed.

    For example, I still haven’t found another platform that compares to Squarespace in it’s ability to structure your site before you add content to it (since most others you structure your site after you add content, as you need something to work with). I mean I don’t need a site map from my clients because their content structure (shown within the Architecture area of Squarespace) almost replicates this.

    Even more so, I have yet to see another CMS provide a built-in Style Editor like Squarespace. I mean you’d have to purchase a desktop solution like Stylizer to get something comparable.

    All said and done though, it is a hosted solution and it limitations are what you pay for it’s simplicity and ease of use. With Version 5, you no longer have access to templates but they are working on ways to let you edit anything (with about 95% achieved now), so there won’t be a need to mess with XHMTL code. However you can play with CSS as much as you want, as it’s CSS template structure is probably the best I’ve seen versus other solutions. In a nutshell, Squarespace is optimized for “designers” rather than developers. So those who prefer immediately visualizing and conceptualizing their content, layout, and designs without having to play with too much code in the back end will probably like it considerably.

    0

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