Blogging

b2evolution Blogging Platform

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When I was first trying to figure out what how to install and work all this new open source software I was finding, I came across b2evolution. In my opinion, this software is the closest thing to WordPress as you can get without actually being WordPress.  It has very similar functionality but a different looking admin area with its main page also called a dashboard. It has skins, plugins, and language packs too. The documentation is very well organized with extremely helpful information. I often find WordPress documentation convoluted or difficult to locate, so this was refreshing to find. There also appears to be quite an active community forum where you have a better chance of finding what you’re looking for, as opposed to the WordPress community where you have to hope you search for the correct terms to find your answer. At least with a forum, you can narrow it down by browsing to the appropriate forum first before searching.

I really like that b2evolution has a Stats section in the admin area. Here you can view how many hits you’ve received from feeds, robots, or actual browsers. You can also see where your visitors are coming from by viewing the referring domains tab. Other than than, I’m not noticing a heck of a lot of differences from that of a WordPress blog other than the layout. I’ve read that you can have multiple blogs under one installation, but I don’t think this is something that would interest me anyway. If you’ve already managed to become familiar with WordPress, I would see no obvious reason to defect to b2evolution and vice versa.

By the way, I really like the photo blog demo. I was clicking through the photos while thinking about what I could do on my own with it. I had to stop and separate myself from the computer. If I’m left to my own devices, I would now have another new domain name with b2evolution installed running the photo blog theme for some crazy idea that just came to me in passing. That’s my curse, I suppose.

Status Free Microblogging Platform

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Status is a free micro-blogging script similar to the Twitteresque type update platforms out there. I recently installed this script on a sandbox of mine and am delighted with its simplicity. There’s not much to this script, but there isn’t supposed to be either. The install was quick and painless, but there was something in the documentation about needing two separate databases. I created two but when I browsed to the install folder to go through the setup, it only asked for one and it seemed to be functioning just fine. If I was really planning on deploying this script on a site long term, I would definitely go back and read the directions entirely and more about the requirements of Status. I have to admit I often skim the install documentation which is why it can sometimes take me twice as long to figure things out. That is the exact reason why my first ran from Drupal the first time around.

The script is fairly new so there is no administration area to make some common customizations to the header logo, footer, or changes to the color schemes. As far as I can tell with my limited experience, all changes have to be made by opening up the appropriate file and manually changing code. Another thing that I read on the site is that there is currently no way to delete an account which seems strange.

The default look and feel of Status has a billowy blue Elgg type appearance which isn’t too bad, but it would be the first thing I would customize to try and make it my own. The next thing after that would be to try and figure out where I would stick ads in this script. I admit that I always put ads up on a site too soon, but for an infant script such as this, there’s been little to no exploration of ad integration thus far. I want to make sure I can figure out which files control specific areas of the script and what kind of result I will get from inserting code from Amazon, Google Adsense, etc. On occasion, code from certain sites just won’t work or will cause problems I cannot fix. I don’t want to grow a free community site without the ability to properly monetize it later on down the road.

So what could we use the Status micro-blogging script for right now? I think this would be great for a small community site that wants to exchange news, updates, or ideas with each other. It might also be a great way for teams at work to update each other on the status of a project too. The idea I might consider is to add it on to my private family website as a fun way for us to all keep tabs on each other.The biggest hurdle with family members is the same as it is with running any other site; getting people to actual use it.

I think before Status can be accepted further by more hacks like me,  an administration area will have to be created so there could be an easier way to make simple customizations and perform general administrative tasks relating to the pruning of users and groups. While this piece of free software has a great deal to offer us, it still has a few more key features that need to be added.

Blogging with WordPress

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I figured I would start off this inaugural posting with arguable the best open source software available. WordPress is a publishing platform that is not only easy to use, but it has a large collection of attractive themes for various uses.

I forget the first version of WordPress I ever installed, but I remember actually struggling as I tried to figure out how to install it. I look back now and I’m a bit embarrassed because since then I must have installed WordPress successfully at least a hundred times. What makes it even easier is it’s included in the Fantastico script library that is often included in a web hosts control panel area. This makes installing a quick and easy automated process.

This software has a massive community of users and developers that gives this program so many different options for plugins and aesthetic consideration. It’s also incredibly easy to figure out how to customize certain areas such as the header, footer, and sidebar. I am living proof that anyone can learn to install and customize WordPress with a limited technical background.

Although no script is bullet proof, WordPress is constantly improved and new patches are available quite often right from the administration area. Whether or not this fact makes the platform more secure is debatable, but it certainly makes me feel better about building websites on a platform that is continually developed and then utilized by an extremely active community.

There are so many different kinds of software out there that specialize in one specific area such as galleries, social networking, personal blogs, ecommerce, news, etc. However, there’s only one I know of that can be used so simply for any of those things and so much more, and that’s WordPress. If you have an idea for a website and you’re searching for the right open source website script to use, you should really explore all that WordPress can do for you.