Professional Blogging

Professional Blog Software Reviews – bBlog

Today’s post is the half way point in this series of blog software reviews. Yesterdays WordPress review is going to be a tough result to beat. Let’s see if bBlog has what it takes.

bBlog is another PHP and MySQL open source effort licensed under GPL. While Apache is recommended it doesn’t say you can’t use Windows/IIS but the docs do seem designed to discourage it. I wasn’t about to change operating system for a blog, especially after seeing previous packages work fine, so perhaps I deserved everything I got..

The bBlog website is the most amateur-looking so far. It is easy to miss the news feed, I finally found it with the help of Google.

Ease of installation

Installation was easy, a couple of bugs seemed to have sneaked into the process though as you will see from the screenshots. The field names on the form were black on black so I had to “select all” to read the captions for each textbox.

This might have just been on my system but it spoiled the whole process somewhat. I would be interested to hear if it had happened to anyone else. Another problem was my mistake but perhaps should have been easier to recover from, when it asked for my blog url I missed the trailing slash thus all my link paths were broken. A little validation goes a long way!

Ease of use

The interface is not pretty by any means. The theme with the whole product seems to be “basic, but works”. It does the job and I have no real complaints. Again, maybe only my system, but every click seemed to throw up PHP errors.

Flexibility of posting formatting

As well as HTML there are plenty of options, more than the previous packages. You can use HTML, can have newlines and URLs automatically converted (nice, I like that) or use BBCode and textile. Posts can be draft or live and can be under multiple categories. You can also split a post using a “read more” comment tag.

Comments

Visitors can comment but not using registered log-ins. You can moderate comments though, selecting between none, all or only those containing links and choose a flood level.

Syndicate RSS/Atom feeds

You get RSS and Atom feeds plus there is a curious feature for creating custom feeds for sections (categories).

Search

While there is talk of a search feature and my download contained a search.php file, it didn’t seem to work. Others have provided plugins though.

Ping, Trackback

You can send and receive trackbacks, plus you can add a list of ping notification sites.

Categories

You can add categories and have a post under multiple categories but sub-categories are not supported.

URLs

As would be expected friendly URLs are achieved through Apache .htaccess

Overall Search Engine Friendliness

All seems fine, good solid standards compliant code throughout.

Template flexibility

bBlog uses Smarty which is a good popular templating system and for some developers and designers has to be a major plus point. No problem adding any code you like, including advertising code.

Extensibility

PHP/MySQL, plug-ins and of course tweaking the Smarty templates.

Multiple Authors/Multiple Blogs

It seems from reading the docs and forum it is really a single author and single blog despite what it says on the site. There is a hack for multiple authors though.

3rd Party support

There are some enthusiastic developers supporting bBlog with hacks and plugins but not exactly the vibrant marketplace of the competition.

Technical support and documentation

There is a forum and a Wiki. Comprehensive is not a word I would use to describe it.

API, Email

Supports XML-RPC for the MetaWeblog API but there is no support for blogging via email.

Static pages/Articles

You would need to add your own static pages and hack the templates.

Stats and reporting

There are no stats so you would have to roll your own, analyse your hosting logs or use a third party hosted service.

Summary

Now I am at the end of this review I wish I had looked at bBlog before the others, I am sure it would have turned out much different. This system has a lot going for it and with some tidying up in the aesthetics, user experience, documentation and organisation it could be a killer blog app. As it stands though it just doesn’t compare well with WordPress or Movable Type. There is nothing available here that would make me choose bBlog over another so I am afraid WordPress is still in the lead, followed closely by Movable Type.

  1. Introduction
  2. CityDesk review
  3. Movable Type review
  4. WordPress review
  5. bBlog review
  6. DasBlog review
  7. CommunityServer review
  8. Drupal review

Author: Chris Garrett

Chris Garrett is a content marketing and blogging coach and co-author of the Problogger Book with Darren Rowse.