Blosxom (pronounced “blossom”) is another blog package that was kindly suggested for me to review by a couple of readers after the last round of blog software reviews. It is billed as
a lightweight yet feature-packed weblog application designed from the ground up with simplicity, usability, and interoperability in mind
Let’s see how it compares.
So the key thing about Blosxom seems to be the simplicity factor. I am all for simplicity, so I applaud them for striving for it. The website certainly lives up to this goal being a minimal experience. It is a little jarring though to hit “news” and be taken to a completely differently formatted blog. A minor problem, I am sure I will get over it, heh.
Again, as many of these blog packages are, Blosxom is open source therefore free to use. Unlike many of the others it uses the filesystem rather than a database. All it requires is a web server running Perl.
Mac users get an installer, and there is one for windows on the way (maybe). For now if you are not using a mac then you need to download the zipped .cgi script and change a couple of settings. Things will I am sure be much improved when installers are universally available!
The instructions are all very well written in a kind of tutorial format.
As blog software goes this is quite unique. Rather than having a blogging interface to create posts you use a text editor. Any text editor. The first line of your new text file is the post title and the rest is the post body. Simply by saving text files in your blog folder creates the posts.
Comments are available through a plugin. There wasn’t any support that I could see for user registration or anti-spam features.
There is a plugin to allow searching plus a couple of other plugins for integrating with third party searches such as Google and Lucene.
Ping and Trackback
Ping and trackback implementations rely on plugins. There is at least one plugin that allows ping of weblogs.com and another XML-RPC plugin that allows ping of other sites.
You can create a static blog where the URLs being static files are completely friendly. Otherwise URLs are kind-of friendly. They all use the blosxom.cgi rather than true friendly URLs. You have a choice between date formatted or path formatted URLs after that.
It is all very neatly search engine friendly, there is nothing here really to get in the way, especially if you produce a static blog.
By default you get a basic black on white vanilla template. Template themes are called “flavours” in the world of blosxom and there are a few available out in the wild web. Thankfully my personal favourite has been translated. The templates are very simple but being simple lack some of the power of other more complete templating engines.
There is no support for pages other than blog posts. Having said that there is no support for creating blog posts either, creating static pages is the same as creating any other pages in this system apart from the fact you would need to add the headers and footers.
Categories in the world of blosxom are in fact directories in your file system. If you want to have a category called “catpictures” you simply create a folder with your file in it. How bizarre is that? It oddly makes sense though.
For such a slimmed down piece of software it is richly supported by plugins. Installing plugins is simply a case of downloading it to the right place, but you do need to configure the plugin directory in the config for it to find them. It’s a good job as the base install comes with only really the most basic bare-minimum functionality.
Bosxom seems to be mainly supported through the Yahoo! Group but Googling around I did see good support and discussions elsewhere.
By default your content is syndicated as RSS but it is possible to create your own formats as “flavours”. You can have a feed produced from any part of your hierarchy, so you can even subscribe to a feed of posts from a certain month or year. There is a plugin if you want to provide Atom feeds also.
API support is again through plugins, there is a metaWeblog API plugin for example.
There is a plugin for recording referrers but you will really need a third party solution or to analyse your web traffic logs.
If you want to have multiple authors you can simply give them access to your folder structure. You could also decide that each of you will only “post” to your own folders. Quite a difference from the other packages in our reviews.
As the software is meant to be simple it seems a little harsh to knock Blosxom down. It definitely achieves the simple goal, no doubt about that. For someone who wants to use their own favourite text editor to post, for a Perl geek, or if you want to integrate blogging into another Perl-based package this might be a nice solution but for anyone else I would look look at the other packages before before deciding.
If you have any suggestions for future reviews or have an idea how these reviews could be improved please do speak up. Also if you have experience using the software and disagree or have an answer to any questions I raise please do add them in the comments.