ifacethoughts

New Blogging Engines

I came across a couple of projects for new blogging engines this week. Both of them seem to have some kind of relationship with WordPress. One is Habari (via Matt) and the other FlatPress (via Lorelle).

In today’s age, you cannot afford to compete with WordPress and Movable Type unless you have good enough USPs. Habari has the edge over WordPress by using the latest technology, mainly PHP5. PHP5 supports an object oriented object model as compared to its predecessors and provides a chance to write strong object oriented code. I personally believe that OOP encourages better and flexible design, which in my opinion can benefit WordPress too. David Peralty has put up a lot of information about the project. Habari will create some interest as it has developers who have been active with WordPress before. Read posts by the contributors to get the background – Chris Davis, Michael Heilemann and Khaled Abou Alfa. It will be really interesting if Habari turns out to be a technically better WordPress or something completely original. I sense a fear against object oriented programming in the WordPress community that it will make WordPress tougher to develop or use. Habari can score there.

As I have read more about Habari, some kind of politics seems to have been read between the lines. I had no idea when I tried Habari out of curiosity. I think Owen Winkler puts everything together in his detailed post about Habari. I still think Habari has the advantage of the new technology, and can lead to a better design. I think the projects should be discussed apolitically, on their technical merit.

FlatPress is WordPress without requiring a database. It stores the blog posts in flat files, which can make it easier to install. But it is going to extremely slow if the blog grows, disk input output is terribly slow. Activities like search, or anymore than presenting the post will cause delays taking it to the border of being unusable. However, one use I see with FlatPress, if it really gets equivalent to WordPress, is where database supported by WordPress (MySQL) is not available. However I wonder if it would be usable and scalable. WordPress is already user friendly, which has been proven by the extensive user community, FlatPress will not be able to sustain a long term interest by avoiding databases.

I think it is good that these projects are coming up, it will keep the projects aware of the latest technologies and its benefits. There is already Serendipity which does some things in a different way. These projects will also be of interest to some who have technical complaints against WordPress.

It will be interesting to see if any of these projects can lead a trend to adopt the newer technologies.

Discussion [Participate or Link]

  1. Doug Karr said:

    IMHO, the real challenge is not in the development of the application but in the usability of the interface. Blogging platforms, even the simple ones, are still very intimidating to the newby blogger. Things like pings, trackbacks, permalinks, tagging… these should all be automated within a user interface. Feed and Web Analytics, Email subscriptions, etc. are external when they should be internal to these applications.

    There’s much room for improvement!

  2. Abhijit Nadgouda said:

    I agree with you Doug that more automation is required, especially since things like feeds and tagging have amalgamated with blogging. However, there should be a stress on good programming practices, after all that is what will build the software. More so because blogging tools work well as CMSs for a lot of web sites, where scalability, security and extensibility will matter a lot. And these work best if they are designed into the system rather than added on.

    Secondly, using good programming concepts also reduces limitations, e.g., using Database Abstraction Layer can allow freedom across databases.

  3. Matt said:

    The reason I said it reminded me of Drupal was the multiple templating engines and committee-driven design process, and the reason it reminded me of Serendipity was s9y is already PHP5, OO, DB-independent, etc. However, Doug nailed what’s really important in his comment.

  4. Abhijit Nadgouda said:

    Matt, yes I do agree that what will make the software really popular is its usability. However, I believe that to make it apply in many more cases the software should be really flexible. I consider Habari has the advantage of new technologies, which WordPress did not when it started.

    The focus should definitely be on usefulness to the user. However, that does not mean that software practices should not be considered. I believe right usage of OO can help a lot, which Habari can get.

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Abhijit Nadgouda
iface Consulting
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