Blogging software compared

Blog Software Smackdown: The Big 3 Reviewed

Many Web developers will scoff at the idea of using somebody else’s software. This is especially true when the software differs greatly from the specific needs a client has. However, when it comes to Weblog software, there’s little reason to fear using a pre-written package. Many of these packages have years of development work behind them; they were not thrown together over a weekend and are consistently stable. Another good reason to use a pre-written package is the feature set. It would take any developer months to write from scratch every feature in today’s top Weblog software packages. For most of us, this is simply not a good use of our time. Besides, if you’re choosing to publish your writings on the Web, you’ll probably want to spend more time writing and less time coding.

This article compares the benefits and drawbacks of the three most popular self-hosted blogging applications: Movable Type, WordPress, and Textpattern. “Self hosted” refers to software you install and run on your own site, as opposed to hosted services like TypePad, Blogger, or LiveJournal.

I made a similar comparison myself recently. I’ve got a new web site in the works running WordPress, but I looked into both Movable Type and Textpattern before deciding to go with it. This article doesn’t go into a lot of detail, but it does provide a good, high-level overview of these three applications and the benefits and drawbacks of each, including the licensing terms and the availability of plugins and add-ons.

Movable Type I tried out a few years ago in the 1.x days and I took another look when version 3.2 was released a few months ago. It’s a really nice, polished system, but it’s got a bit of a learning curve if you want to do anything other than use the defaults for everything. My main problem was the lack of themes available, which necessitates learning the Movable Type templating language in order to make my own. As I was just here out of curiosity and had already decided on using WordPress, I didn’t bother.

Movable Type has one nice feature that the other two lack: Multiple blog capabilities. This is mentioned in the linked article as well. If you need to run multiple sites from a central administration point, this is the way to go. The down side to this (there’s always a down side) is that while you can create an unlimited number of blogs, if you want more than one author, you have to buy the commercial version. If you want more than five authors, you pay even more. This is in contrast to the other two applications, which are not only free, but open source, and allow unlimited authors. Still, MT is probably the way to go if you’re a company or organization and don’t mind paying for something.

I didn’t actually install Textpattern but I did check out the demo installation at OpenSourceCMS (which is a great resource for trying out stuff like this). It looks nice, but it doesn’t have the developer community that WordPress has, which means that plugins, themes, and support are all going to be a little harder to come by.

WordPress scores very high in all three of these areas. Between the available themes and the various plugin lists, there’s very little you have to write yourself. I’ve been able to find plugins to do just about everything I need, plus a lot of things I didn’t know I wanted. The documentation is good enough that I’ve been able to get up to speed quickly and with no trouble at all.

Comments

avitania says:

It’s funny that you mention this, because I’d been shopping blogging software to move our company’s blog to for the past couple of weeks. I ended up choosing WordPress mainly because it’s free. But it’s been easy to install and easy to configure. Our graphic/web designer had a fuck of a time customizing the layout, though – something about the stylesheets being weird. I don’t know much about that, though, it’s all greek to me.

Anyway, I’m totally digging on WP so far.

kchrist says:

I’ve found that the easiest way to customize the appearance of WordPress is, rather than starting from scratch, to find a theme similar to what you want in the theme browser and modify that. You can save yourself a lot of work that way.