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Thread: Best Blog Software

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    Default Best Blog Software

    I would like to add a blog feature to a website and know there are many different options out there. Is there a certain software that everyone uses that is best, or do you just use whatever is offered by your hosting company? Does blogware come built in to CMS's like Joomla? I'd like it to be as little of a headache as possible. Thanks for any advice you can offer.

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    ExpressionEngine. It's the only CMS that I'll ever recommend. It's the most flexible, extensible, and usable CMS that I've ever come across.

    Joomla, Drupal, WordPress, TextPattern, Movable Type...all have their places, but I think EE beats them in most of that functionality.

    I've set up six EE sites in the last few months, and I've had no troubles at all. In fact I'm in the process of UPDGRADING all of my clients that are on Drupal, WordPress or Joomla to EE for free because it's too much of a nuisance to support any of them. EE is just that good (in my opinion). If you check out the EE forums, you'll see that everyone that uses it is just as passionate as I am because we all know it's value.

    You won't find that level of support for the others.

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    Dear MM: Thanks for the recommendation! I followed your link and have been reading about EE and it sounds great, but I don't have much to compare it to. I've always designed my own databases or inherited other people's. If I already have a pre-existing site that already has a database, are you saying I should put in into EE? Does EE have a built-in blog? Or is there stand-alone blogware that I can just add to my existing site?

    Could you please provide links to some of your sites so I can see EE in action? Do you use EE for every website, even if it has no need for a database? Isn't a CMS overkill in some cases?

    Thanks, e

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    I followed your link and have been reading about EE and it sounds great, but I don't have much to compare it to.
    For just a pure statistical analysis, check out cmamatrix.org. You can compare/contrast almost all the viable CMS softwares out there. Most of the info is up-to-date.

    For practical comparisons, just check out the EE forums for people that have switched (and you'll get an idea of why people switch from systems like Joomla, Drupal, Movable Type, WordPress and others and how they're liking EE)

    If I already have a pre-existing site that already has a database, are you saying I should put in into EE?
    Well, that depends on what the database is being used for. If it's tied to another CMS, then you should bring that content into EE. If it's for some other purpose that you find works best outside of EE, you're free to do that too. Although you can't currently tie in your existing database into EE, you will gain that functionality in 1-2 months time when EE 2.0 releases.


    Does EE have a built-in blog?
    The thing about EE, which is hard for some people to get their heads around, is that there is no set structure of a site you can build with EE. EE lets you control your content and display is however you want. So if you want a blog, you can build a blog. If you suddenly decide that you want all of your blog entries to be individual pages from the top-level navigation (about us, history, that type of thing), you can make some changes in the control panel, and it's done. No need to muck around with changing the information architecture.

    The simple answer: Yes!

    Or is there stand-alone blogware that I can just add to my existing site?
    If it's just a blog that you need and you're fine with having separate systems for your blog and for the rest of your content/site, then maybe WordPress is the way to go for a separate "stand-alone" blog. You will need to know a bit of PHP to be able to get templates to work for you current design though (unless you don't want the site and blog designs to be similar).

    Could you please provide links to some of your sites so I can see EE in action?
    I can't post my sites for legal reasons. But you should check out the EE Showcase.

    Do you use EE for every website, even if it has no need for a database? Isn't a CMS overkill in some cases?
    Yes, ever since I've discovered EE, it's been our CMS of choice and we've used it in all subsequent projects. I don't find a CMS to be overkill. The days of the "static" website are long gone. Who wants to visit a website that has the same content for all eternity? Even for clients that don't change their content much, they want the choice to be able to do it. It's much more economical for them to be empowered to change their content in a meaningful way instead of paying us every time they need to make changes.

    Plus, with the increasing popularity of blogs and such, most of our clients require truly dynamic content.

    The beauty of EE is that it can adapt to all of these situations. I've powered sites for literary magazines off of EE as well as a site for a local band to a multi-media aggregation site with 50+ updates a day. EE can handle it all. The versatility is why I love it. And for things it can't do, I can write my own PHP and run it within EE (no problems). In the next few months, they're releasing EE 2.0, which is running on top of CodeIgniter (one of the most powerful PHP frameworks that I've used) and so extending the functionality of EE to fit every single one of my needs is now possible.

    So, I don't need to run phpBB (or some other forum script) next to a CMS next to some sort of media managing next to ads management next to project management. I can do it all in EE. Well, you can do all of that in EE now but if you wanted to make the features more powerful, you could. That's probably why prominent names in web design/development (such as Mark Boulton and Happy Cog (ironically, the designers of WordPress)) use it.
    Last edited by Medyman; 06-01-2008 at 02:32 PM.

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    @kuau, though it wont allow you to do it to your existing database, please have a look at invision blog, if you are going to offer multiuser blogging.
    It allows to add custom header, so that an individual blogg is not bogged down by the site header. Apart from all regular blog features it has excellent draggabale (drag and drop box) blocks that all your users can enjoy.

    You can register a free account at http://forums.invisionpower.com/ and test your own blog in less than two minutes to appreciate it fully.
    Sample : http://forums.invisionpower.com/blog...showentry=2428

    Apart from this, Drupal also offers excellent multiuser blog and unlike invision, that is fully free and has excellent features.

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    Dear MM: Wow, I had no idea there were so many CMS's out there. Thanks for the great links.

    With ExpressionEngine, do you buy it, or do you have your clients buy it? Or do you just use the free core engine? The licensing isn't really clear to me. Would they consider it a for-profit site if you had Google Adsense ads on a non-profit site? I tried the demo but wasn't entirely sure what I was looking at. Couldn't really get a feel for the site structure. I haven't worked with blogs or CMS's before so am not familiar with the lingo, so am at a bit of a disadvantage. In the cmamatrix I had no clue what many of the features were. Seems I'd have to spend a month researching before I could make an informed decision. Thanks for sharing your experience. e

    PS. Thanks minesota. I'll take a look at invision too.
    Last edited by kuau; 06-01-2008 at 09:53 AM. Reason: add PS

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    With ExpressionEngine, do you buy it, or do you have your clients buy it?
    Well, we generally purchase the actual license because EllisLab offers discounts for multiple license holders. But whatever the cost, we pass that on to the client. And then later on, we transfer the license to the client's name.

    Or do you just use the free core engine?
    Well, the things missing from the free core version are kind of prohibitive for the kind of sites we do. For example, the mailing list and member modules are missing. Those are key features that a lot of our clients want/need.

    The licensing isn't really clear to me. Would they consider it a for-profit site if you had Google Adsense ads on a non-profit site?
    There is a pre-sales section to the forum where you can get answers to these kinds of things. But I'm fairly confident(as I've seen this question asked and answered many times in their forums) that the answer to that is no. By commercial use they mean if you're supporting a business. Even if you were selling some things on the side like some shirts or something for the non-profit, it would fall under the personal license.

    I tried the demo but wasn't entirely sure what I was looking at.
    Which demo were you looking at? They have a demo of the control panel but you can't view the actual site you build with that demo. I know it's kind of confusing and I don't know why they do it that way.

    My suggestion to get a feel for it would be to download the free version and install it locally and give it a whirl. There are also these great video tutorials that might help you.

    Couldn't really get a feel for the site structure.
    I understand what you mean. But one thing to remember is that EE is a content management system. It doesn't build the site design/layout for you. You need to write that all yourself. This is the one thing that makes EE different from all the others. I find the other CMS software to be prohibitive in that you need to design around their peculiarities. With EE, we can design whatever we want and we're able to make it work 98% of the time.

    In the cmamatrix I had no clue what many of the features were.
    You don't really need to worry about most of the things listed on cmsmatrix. I don't even know what most of those mean. But if you have any questions about specific terms, feel free to post here. I'm sure someone will know what they are.


    You should first think about what your needs are. Are you just looking for something that you want to install and be done with? Should the design match your site? Do you have time to spend in learning a new system? What level of support/community to you want around a product? What are must-have features? What's your budget? Those six questions I think are the cornerstone of picking a system.

    Good luck in making your choice. If you know HTML/CSS and have a week or so to learn/play around with EE, I highly highly recommend it (and I don't recommend things lightly).

    Oh, and just as a matter of public record, I'm not in any way affiliated with EllisLab and/or ExpressionEngine, except that I'm an avid user of their product and absolute love it -- it's doubled by profit margins, how could I not
    Last edited by Medyman; 06-02-2008 at 01:46 AM. Reason: spelling

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    Since this has turned into more of an conversation about CMSs, I thought this might be useful for some that pass by this thread.

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    Dear MM: That is a superb article on CMS's. I have learned so much from this interchange with you.. thank you so much! I sincerely appreciate the time you have taken to share your experience.

    I still have some homework to do to learn about things like "JSON" and "tagging" and "microformats" but I am really starting to grasp the concepts.

    Mahalo plenty! e
    Last edited by kuau; 06-04-2008 at 05:58 PM. Reason: changed a word

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    I still have some homework to do to learn about things like "JSON" and "tagging" and "microformats" but I am really starting to grasp the concepts.
    Most of that is geek-talk. If you're just looking for a simple blog, you don't need to concern yourself with those (except maybe tagging).

    JSON:
    If you're curious, here is a good article on JSON.

    Tagging:
    Think of it like categorization, but on a less rigid level. Usually, within CMSs categories are set ahead of time. If you have a blog related to cars, you might have categories that relate to each manufacturer (Toyota, GM, BMW, VW, etc...). Tagging is done at the time of posting to provide more subtle cues as to the content. Say you're writing an article on BMW engines. Some tags for this article might be engine or improvements. Then, your reader can sort all of your articles to pull out all of the ones tagged with engine. It provides more robust navigation and utility to your information.

    Microformats
    Again, something that the normal user need not concern himself/herself with. If you're creating your own designs, then it might be worth looking into. Microformats are ways to use CSS classes to specify content that can then be used/read by various software. So, your content has a dual purpose. For example, say you have the following code on a Contact Us page:

    Code:
    <div>
       <div>Joe Doe</div>
       <div>The Example Company</div>
       <div>604-555-1234</div>
       <a href="http://example.com/">http://example.com/</a>
     </div>
    You could "microformat-ize" this by adding some specific class identifiers like so:
    Code:
    <div class="vcard">
       <div class="fn">Joe Doe</div>
       <div class="org">The Example Company</div>
       <div class="tel">604-555-1234</div>
       <a class="url" href="http://example.com/">http://example.com/</a>
     </div>
    Using plug-ins to your browser, your browser would then be able to parse this information and automatically add it to your address book, for example. You can do similar things with geocoding, tagging, calendar events, syndication feeds (rss, atom, etc...). This becomes especially useful for screen readers, for example, and boost overall accessibility.

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