Recently I wrote about the decisions I made, and the
experiences I had, when choosing and installing some
Blog software. In the end, I narrowed down my personal
list of CMS (Content management System) Blog packages
to just five that seemed to offer the particular features
I required. These are WordPress and b2evolution (these
two packages have been independently developed from a
common ‘ancestor’ called b2), LifeType (formerly
called pLog), Pivot and TextPattern.
As I said previously, there is no one Blog package which
is likely to satisfy all users. Each has its own strengths,
weaknesses and idiosyncrasies. However, the five packages
which I selected are all well respected and command a
dedicated following of users. If you are interested in
trying them (and others) for yourself, you should visit
the excellent Open Source CMS site, which hosts ‘live’ demo installations.
Rather than go through an exhaustive list of the features
provide by these packages, I thought it would be interesting
to find out some of the vital information which is often
overlooked in feature lists. How ‘mature’ are
they and how many people are currently developing them?
Advanced age is, of course, no guarantee of quality;
nor is a large team of developers necessarily better
than a small team. However, when you compare these packages,
taking into account their relative complexity and robustness
in use, some knowledge of the development history and
the size of the development teams may colour your opinion
of each package’s qualities and its future prospects.
One other thing that is important to me (though not,
it would seem, to some CMS developers) is data exchange.
Having entrusted your Blog, diary or novel to their software,
how easy will it be to extract all your entries and import
them into some other software, should you wish (or need)
to do so at a later date?
And finally, just to let the developers have the last
word, I wanted to know what they thought made their CMS/Blog
different and special?
These are the Blogs I installed and the sites from which
you can download them:
LifeType (pLog) http://www.lifetype.net/
These are the questions I asked:
- 1. When was the first version of this CMS released?
- 2. How many people are actively involved in core
- 3. Can you easily import data from other Blogs/CMS?
If so, what data formats are supported?
- 4. Can you easily export data to facilitate import
into other Blogs/CMS? If so, what data formats are
- 5. In brief, what is the main advantage which this
CMS has over its competitors?
The answers to my questions were supplied by members
of the development team for each of the five CMS/Blogs.
They are LifeType/pLog: Oscar Renalias, Lead developer
and founding developer; b2evolution: Francis Planque,
Project Manager and Main Developer; TextPattern: Sencer
Yurdagül, member of the development team; Pivot:
Bob den Otter, main developer; WordPress: Mike Little,
When was the first version of this CMS released?
TextPattern: Private (alpha) releases were made as early
as 2002. The first public release was "TextPattern
beta 1" which was released on February 17, 2003
after which there was a cycle of beta, gamma and rc releases.
August 14, 2005 marks the date when we released the first
(officially) stable version of TextPattern which was
named 4.0 and also marks the adoption of a more user-friendly
LifeType: pLog 0.1 was released on the 2nd of September
grew as the official successor to Michel Valdrighi's
b2/cafelog blogging software. The
b2 project was started around July 2001 by Michel. In
late 2002, Michel found he could not continue to develop
b2 because of personal commitments. On the 23 May 2003
Michel Valdrighi announced: "Matt Mullenweg
and Mike Little are leading the new WordPress branch
of b2, that is going to become the new official branch
once they get a release out." The first non-beta
release of WordPress was 0.7 in May 2003. Release 0.71
followed in June January 2004 saw the leap to version
1.0 May 2004 saw the next major release of WordPress,
version 1.2 February 2005 gave us the release of version
1.5 Since then there have been a couple of bug/security
fix releases, with 1.5.2 the current version. Version
1.5.x has been downloaded more
than 700,000 times!
Pivot: Somewhere late 2001, although that version looked
nothing like it does now.
b2evolution: b2evolution was first released early 2003.
However it is built upon b2 which was first released
How many people are actively involved in core development?
TextPattern: There are currently 4 people that have
commit access to the repository and all 4 are actively
we have myself working in the core code itself, with
some help from lead co-developer
Wu and regular contributors Benjamin
Krause and Jon Daley.
WordPress: Matt Mullenweg
and Ryan Boren drive all the development. Patches and
bug fixes are contributed be a core of about 4 - 6 other
developers. It's worth
mentioning there is a core of half a dozen very active
there are 10 or more support volunteers on the forums.
Pivot: Three coders (with access to the 'main code',
2 people who contribute bits and pieces of code,
2 people who run the forum and take care of support, and
quite a few regulars who help out on the forums.
Can you easily import data from other Blogs/CMS? If
so, what data formats are supported?
TextPattern: Importing is possible from MovableType
(file and DB), Blogger, WordPress and b2. The import
is available from the administration interface.
LifeType: At the moment
we have no such feature.
I know Mark Wu had some plans for a universal importer
and exporter, and he has already written
some code. It has not been released yet and
we don't know when it is going to be released.
WordPress: Yes. Currently you can import from b2, Blogger,
Greymatter, Livejournal, Moveable Type, TextPattern,
and RSS. More are planned for the next release.
Pivot: There are import
routines for Moveable Type’s
generic import format, Nucleus, phpweblog and Greymatter.
Blogger can be imported via MT's import format,
and I’m working on an import tool for WordPress.
Once Atom 1.0 is finalised, we'll provide both import
and export for that format.
b2evolution: b2evo can import data from other blogs:
b2, Movable Type, Geeklog and Manywhere miniblog. (WordPress
import is also planned).
Can you easily export data to facilitate import into
other Blogs/CMS? If so, what data formats are supported?
TextPattern: Currently it is only possible to output
a MT-compatible (file) format, which can be done by creating
a special template for it. There are currently no automated
one-click exports available. However there is already
code in the development version (of the next major release)
that will offer an xml-based export-/import format.
LifeType: Same answer
as above. It should not be too difficult to write some
custom code to export all the data in the database to
let's say, RSS 2.0,
but so far nobody has been willing to implement that
functionality and the core development team does not
see it as a critical
WordPress: There is
a 3rd party plugin which
exports to MovableType (MTimport) and SQL.
Pivot: Export in generic
MT format will be made sometime in the near future, together
with the Atom 1.0 export.
b2evolution: It is not really designed for this but
you could use RSS or ATOM for this.
In brief, what is the main advantage which this CMS
has over its competitors?
on the requirements there are different advantages. Designers
appreciate that they have almost complete control over
the output, which is why you will seldom see two TextPattern
sites that look alike. Authoring texts is made easy with
humane web text generator"). Users that are coming
from Drupal or Mambo often make positive comments about
how fast it is possible to get going with TextPattern.
Users coming from applications that are traditionally
more weblog-oriented frequently praise the great flexibility
and the possibility to mix and manage dynamic and "static" content.
The way plugins can be seamlessly incorporated to customize
front-end and backend allows everyone to extend TextPattern
to their needs - most of the time without modifying core-code,
this means avoiding (maintenance of) private forks and
easily taking advantage of updates as they get released.
Emphasis on the stable branches (currently 4.0.x) is
put on backwards-compatibility, and since TextPattern
keeps all user data in the database, updating is very
easy. (And yes, that was the brief version of the answer
LifeType: LifeType provides
a seamless multi-user and multi-blogging experience for
communities. Installing LifeType is usually a snap, and
the set of features
users get in a default installation of LifeType is unmatched:
built from the ground-up to support multiple users and
blogs, support for 100% customizable URLs,
out of the box support for sub-domains like
blogger.com, generation of clean XHTML content, integrated
and podcasting, etc. Sure other solutions provide users with
some of these features, but LifeType is the only one
that delivers all the above and more in one
single package. Additionally, LifeType is
not just a blogging package but a blogging platform:
we provide developers and site owners with lots of templates,
lots of plugins, a powerful plugin framework and clean
and easy to understand code so that they
can customize LifeType and build exciting
communities on top of it. This if of course hardly an advantage
for end users, but we believe that not all communities
are the same: they all have different requirements
and goals and it is very important for us
to make it easy for the owners of communities to
fulfil their needs.
WordPress: Full standards compliance - XHTML styled
with CSS out of the box. Supports PingBack and trackback,
RSS/Atom/RDF for feeds, XFN and nofollow for links. No
rebuilds - fully dynamic. Search engine friendly. Integrated
blog roll/link manager, with import from other systems.
Mature theme system with over 400 themes available. Sophisticated
plugin system with over 500 plugins available.
Anti spam measures out of the box. Password protected
posts. Private posts. Non-blog Pages, (e.g. a static ‘About’ page).
XML RPC for use with desktop blogging tools. Supports
multiple-author community blogging Much, much more!
Pivot: It does not require
a database backend but runs on flat files, which means
that it'll run on servers where there's no MySQL available.
Other than that
it's aimed at people who do not want to deal with the
technical nitty-gritty, so we feel that no technical
expertise should be required to use Pivot. Most
functionality works 'out of the box'. For those who do like
to tinker, there's full access to the templates and tons
of other options to configure the software
to your needs.
b2evolution: It has a true multi-user multiblog multilanguage
engine built into the core. Others blog tools can sometimes
offer these features as hacks or add-ons but they aren't
really efficient. It is designed to be used in all sorts
of complex and twisted set ups, far beyond the basic "personal