WordPress vs. TheRest: How Should a Writer Blog?

by sbh on Monday - 12 January 2009

in Reviews

This blog is powered by WordPress. My wife’s photography business has a website that I wrote with TextPattern. Other projects that I’m working on include Django and Ruby on Rails. I also use Tumblr for short posts. If I’m a writer, where should I turn for my blogging needs?

Bottom-Line: I’m a guy who likes to try stuff out. When Jon Hicks switched over to Textpattern, I simply had to try it out. When editing WordPress to make it be a CMS stopped feeling right, I turned to web application frameworks like Ruby on Rails and Django. When WordPress seemed too cumbersome for little posts, I began to use Tumblr. Where should a writer turn if he/she wants to blog? Let’s examine them.

h2. Tumblr (my tumblr: sbh.tumblr.com)

Tumblr is one of my favorite little Web 2.0 inventions. Essentially, the creators said: “Look, full-fledged blogging software is a bit too heavy and bloated. Let’s streamline things and make it simple.”

Tumblr accomplishes this task very well:

1. It’s pared down, easy-to-use blogging software.
2. It really pays attention to media, encouraging you to post images, videos, and sounds.

Kudoes to Tumblr for this!

The biggest drawback to Tumblr, in my view, is that it does not (to my knowledge) have a self-hosted version. Because of this, you will always be limited to what the good folks at Tumblr allow you to do.

h2. Web App Frameworks (Ruby on Rails & Django)

If you’re a writer who wants to blog, don’t use these! Ruby on Rails and Django are web application frameworks that are built with coders in mind. If you don’t understand the importance of unit tests, or you can’t tell me what a “migration” means — then these probably aren’t for you.

The bonus, however, to using something like this is that you’ve got ultimate control. You write your blog site from the ground up, and that can be fun. But, it can also be a huge headache!

h2. Textpattern (www.acadianimaging.com)

Textpattern is a blogging platform that encourages you to build from the ground up using their templating system. In this way, it’s very much like WordPress, but minus the notion of themes.

When I created acadianimaging.com, I decided to use Textpattern for two reasons:

1. Jon Hicks uses it, and I thought I’d give it a go.
2. I wanted to forget about PHP and WordPress.

Textpattern required absolutely 0 PHP. I purchased a book called Textpattern Solutions, learned the html-like template tags, and I was good to go. The result was a site that, externally, is entirely my own — unlike any other. Internally, however, it has solid design and a good admin user interface.

h2. Blogger? I hardly know her!

If you wanted a mid-level blog, just go sign up at Blogger or WordPress.com. These sites get you started today. Choose a theme, write a post, and you’re in business.

I’ve got nothing against these except the lack of control.

h2. WordPress

Finally, there’s WordPress. WordPress is a full-featured blogging platform. Moreover, it benefits from a positively HUGE user-base that is dedicated to improving it. Trying to find a look that feels like you? Search long enough and you’ll find a Theme that fits your needs. Need your text to do a certain thing, or need some special section to your site? There’s a plugin for it, undoubtedly.

Further, it’s API is supported by most blog editors (such as MarsEdit or Ecto). It just kinda works…

Why not use WordPress?

A few reasons.

1. Personally, I feel like it’s a bit bloated. The latest version, (2.7 as of this writing) features a new admin interface that is, in my opinion, a little cluttered. Sure, it LOOKS much nicer than the previous admin interfaces, but it has too much going on.

2. You may not have the technical know-how to get it up and going. There is a committed user-base, but you still need to be a bit technical to get things going.

3. Because they are everywhere, WordPress themes sometimes feel a bit too cookie-cutter to me.

h2. Question

Which blogging platform do you use?

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