WordPress, TextPattern, TikiWiki

Goal for the day was to install and test WordPress and TextPattern, see what the options are. My last blog software roundup was the feature I wrote for MacWorld last year. Things have changed since then — new apps are gathering momentum, old ones becoming mired. mneptok encouraged me to also give TikiWiki a shot and see how it stacks up.

WordPress: Not prepared for something this polished and smooth. Documentation still a bit immature, but everything is in plain English rather than manual-ese. If you’re used to waiting for MT rebuilds on a large site, it’s a treat to have content just slip into a database and become immediately available. Of course, true dynamic pages also means a database request for every page access, but with the speed of modern servers and MySQL 4, it’s a negligible concern compared with the benefits. Haven’t heard of much in the way of a comment spam problem with WordPress, but just in case, comment moderation options and other safeguards are built in. Another unexpected treat: Posting via email — set up a secret mail account, send mail to it, and have a cron job send a wget command to a hidden mail posting URI – emailed post goes live right on schedule. Generates hairy mod_rewrite directives ready for pasting into .htacess. Welcome bonus: WP is compatible with ecto, a blog posting/editing app I’ve come to rely on. Haven’t yet experimented with migrating posts from MT, but the buzz is it’s pretty easy. No multiple blog support yet, but the dev notes make it sound like this is a top priority. I’m sold.

TextPattern: Off to a good start; again, super-simple setup UI. Also has comment moderation, and can disable comments after a specified period of time (another effective spam comment-fighting technique). Built-in tag builder alleviates need to read docs – tags for common mechanisms (e.g. “build a tag for a linked category list, or to link this article title to the next article in the database) are constructed on the fly. Default template is completely raw – you’re expected to be able to handle your own CSS; fine by me, but probably a turnoff for many new users. Built-in traffic logging, nice. No obvious means to build monthly or other custom archives. Couldn’t get permanlinks to work — also seems to be based on mod_rewrite, but it’s not doing its thing and there’s little in the way of documentation. Support forums were down when I tried to visit. Sorry, I’m sure TP is very good, but I don’t have time for this. Granted, the current version is still a gamma release, so I take its shortcomings as such; but I got the feeling it needs time in the cask to become a contender.

TikiWiki: Despite the name, TikiWiki is much more than a Wiki — more a portal app with tons of built-in modules: blogs, articles, polls and surveys, quizzes, file browsers, forums, etc. Really quite amazing how inclusive it is. For the right kind of site, it would be great to have all of this under one roof. If I were building the J-School intranet again from scratch, I’d consider an all-in-one package before piecing things together and writing custom code to fill in the gaps — the benefit of using a single login alone would be worth a lot. The inevitable downside of throwing the kitchen sink at the problem is that none of the modules are as sophisticated or as well-cared-for as the more specialized apps I’ve already got filling those roles. For publishing a single blog, it’s a matter of swatting mosquitos with an elephant gun – 95% of the app will go unused, and the blogging module will never have the care or momentum you get from an app backed by dozens of coders dedicated to doing a single app right. Nevertheless, TikiWiki feels nicely put together, and got me thinking about the possibilities of using an integrated portal app like this for other projects.

WordPress it is, for this blog anyway. I’ll try and chip away at template conversion in the background as soon as a time window opens up. I’m still excited by the possibilities of TikiWiki, and will likely move hosting.birdhouse.org to Tiki once this blog’s migration is complete.

Music: Tindersticks :: Tricklin’

11 Replies to “WordPress, TextPattern, TikiWiki”

  1. http://www.asymptomatic.net/blogbreakdown.htm is a nice breakdown. You might also want to take a look at Mambo (http://www.mamboserver.com)

    niherlas.com is hosted by Pair and I only get one MySQL db at my current plan – yet I have three (soon to be four) blogs there. Can’t justify the cost of going to a plan with more dbs. Considering moving to Dreamhost (although the last time I tried moving from Pair I ran back screaming in two weeks). Also considered setting up a machine in my work’s office to self-host, but my sense of honor won’t let me do it.

    If WP did multi-blog support, I’d likely already be on it. It’s comforting to have Alex King as one of the devs – he makes some pretty good stuff.

  2. In terms of spam comments with WP, I get some, but I switched to having comments moderated and this way spam never officially hits my site.

  3. I haven’t had a spam comment on my site since 2003. I have a few words in my moderation keys, but really it’s the “hold comments with more than X links” that catches the non-obvious (and foreign language) ones.

  4. Scot & Jim-

    You can get WP to multi-blog. I think you just need to install multiple instances of it (admittedly, not ideal, but it is a solution until they get a nicer method in place).

  5. Right – all you need is to preface your table names with the blog names. But I’m wary of hacks like this when the “right” solution is around the corner – why get stuck with a weirdly hacked data store “going forward?” I can wait…

  6. Hey Scott — don’t forget ExpressionEngine. I just upgraded your existing download account so wander over, log-in, and grab a copy.

  7. Rick, don’t know if you’re monitoring this thread, but I’d like to review ExpressionEngine for RFB sometime.

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