Ready to Start Blogging?

Are you interested in creating your own blog? Here is a comparison of three simple and free blogging engines. As originally published on Associated Content.

Recently I decided to start up a simple blog and that meant evaluating software for creating and managing blogs. There are several hosted blogging solutions, like http://www.blogger.com, but I wanted to have something to use on a private web site. Here is what I found.

My basic criteria were: low cost (free being best), small number of moving parts, so ideally no database and few requirements on the web server which serves the pages, access to the source code, so that if an emergency occurs I can (in principle) understand what is happening and potentially fix a problem. Additionally, I wanted to have rss feeds created by the tool, I wanted a nice looking archive of previous posts, and some flexibility to customize the site if needed.

My first stop was WordPress (http://wordpress.org). WordPress is the software blogging solution that many people use. However, this requires the use of MySql, and so this did not meet one of my key simplicity requirements. Besides, while I am sure that WordPress is excellent, all WordPress blogs look the same! Although people try to disguise this fact through the use of various fancy templates.

Next I looked at BashBlogger (http://bashblogger.grimthing.com/). I liked the general idea - a simple set of scripts which create a basic blog style web site. However, when I came to try BashBlogger out, there were problems. For whatever reason, my home directory has a space in its pathway, and BashBlogger could not handle this condition. Additionally, BashBlogger does not have rss feeds. So, reluctantly, I moved on to the next candidate.

Vee, was next up (http://www.0x743.com/vee/). This is a very simple blogging tool. Just a single bash script. The blogs that Vee produces are very simple and are probably ideal for making a simple journal or logging events within a company. So, I was tempted by the simplicity of Vee. However, there were many lacking features. The styling, by default, was minimal. There was no real archiving and no creation of rss feeds. So there would be a lot of additional work and thinking were I to move forward with Vee.

Then I hit NanoBlogger (http://nanoblogger.sourceforge.net/). NanoBlogger like BashBlogger and Vee, is written in the Bash shell scripting language, so it is portable across a variety of machines and operating systems. The sites that NanoBlogger produces are simple, but they have archives that are quite presentable, and they have rss feeds. When I tested it out with a simple prototype blog, NanoBlogger worked without errors, which is a plus too! As I browsed around what NanoBlogger users were talking about, I was a little concerned about the handling of different Web Browsers (there were reports that Internet Explorer had problems with the style sheet that NanoBlogger uses). However, this was quickly tested using the BrowserShots web site (http://browsershots.org/). By the way, if you have not come across it, BrowserShots maintain a large number of systems running a variety of operating systems and web browsers, and using the site you can check how a web page will be rendered on these systems. It is a great way to test your latest cool cascading style sheet home page tweaks.

My only concern with NanoBlogger was its apparently relatively slow performance. I guess the performance is hit by using a very generic scripting language to perform the various update operations that are required to run a blog site. You have to pay for the portability in some way, and in this case you pay in performance.

However, NanoBlogger met the selection criteria and was duly adopted, and so far I have been very happy with it! And, of course, I am not associated with any of the sites mentioned here!

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