Monday, November 29, 2004

Blogger v. WordPress...

Blogging tools are evolving at a phenomenal pace as more and more bloggers go online. Now that I have had a chance to look under the hood of two popular blogging tools -- Blogger and WordPress I thought I would offer my comparisons.

Let me say right off that I like both platforms. Not only that, I will continue to use both platforms. I began using Blogger in June of this year for my business blog (this blog) and WordPress earlier this month for my personal blog.

I have done a great deal of experimentation with templates and design issues on both platforms so I'll start my comparisons with how each platform handles these areas.

Blogger has a choice of several templates that are available within the program setup. These templates are ready to go and selection is part of the startup procedure. Selecting a new template after the initial setup -- is also a breeze. The down side -- because blogger has so many users, it is easy to find your template on at least twenty other blogs the first time you start looking through their promotional lists.

WordPress on the other hand -- only offers one template. It is not a bad template... if you like olive green.

A search of Google for "skins" or "templates" for either platform will produce a myriad of results for each platform -- which users can incorporate into their own blogs. Each program has a "Template" tab which allows easy access to either edit or replace template definitions.

The cascading style sheets (CSS) definitions used by Blogger templates are defined within the template while the CSS definitions for WordPress are contained in a separate file. WordPress has a special feature which allows users to edit any file directly from the program interface. You will of course need to know the name of the file you wish to edit.

Blogger has a user friendly -- searchable help facility. It is written for new bloggers by software developers. Overall this documentation is very good though a bit confusing at times. WordPress Wiki -- is searchable help documentation for WordPress. This help facility tends to talk more to the developer community. Click Wiki to learn more. Documentation is also maintained on the WordPress main domain however it is not searchable.

WordPress is driven by PHP and a MySQL database. The current version of Blogger is written in Java, at least in part. I am not sure how data is stored in Blogger. The data I am referring to -- the user profile and blog post entry information used in the build process to generate the blog html files. It is probably a SQL compliant database a bit more robust than MySQL or perhaps some other method.

There is only one option in WordPress 1.2 [version I use] -- that I feel is not in keeping with other option settings maintained by the program. This is the option that defines ordering of Link Categories. Link Category ordering is set via a PHP program call in the main template with an input variable parameter. The options for this input parameter require that users look them up and I feel this is a very user unfriendly requirement. The program by default orders the Link Categories by name.

Other features such as listing recent posts are a little more difficult in WordPress than in Blogger which automatically generates this list for users. WordPress incorporates a "Hack" to achieve this.

Webopedia defines a hack (noun) as:
(n) 1. Code that is written to provide extra functionality to an existing program.
2. An inelegant and usually temporary solution to a problem.

The WordPress "Hack" is a PHP program that adds functionality to your WordPress blog.

Blog Hosting... Blogger gives you the option of maintaining the html blog files generated by the build process on either their servers [blogspot.com] or your own server. The data that drives the blogger build process is maintained on Blogger servers. WordPress requires your own server.

Comments... Blogger is a bit slow in posting and a bit overbearing in general -- however it works as a spam deterrent. Once you get the hang of the WordPress commenting system you will find that you can control the spam. It also posts comments in real time. I like this system very much.

Incorporation of the Blogger Calendar is easier and much more efficient with WordPress than Blogger. This is because on the WordPress platform, the application is able to retrieve select information directly from the database. WordPress also has a built in Calendar. It is currently being used on my personal blog but will be replaced as soon as I get a chance with a "Blogger Calendar". The navigation features on the Blogger Calendar are a bit more robust than those found on the WordPress calendar.

Pro and Con features of each platform are given in summary below:

Blogger pros include <>
  • It is easy to use and one does not have to be a PHP expert to add additional features
  • You can have your new blog up and running without a server in minutes
  • Hassle free cost free method of blogging
  • You can host your blog on their servers or your own
  • It is easy to tweak an existing template on this platform to include custom functionality or design features
  • There are a lot of templates available for this platform
  • There is a system status link
  • It's free

Blogger cons include <>
  • Does not have a built in calendar [I can remedy that]
  • Does not have categories
  • A lot of blogs look the same
  • Experiencing phenomenal growth -- signs include: slow system responses, system down more often...

WordPress pros include <>
  • It does not have a build process
  • No need to FTP files to private servers
  • Database access is achieved easily and efficiently with any program interface
  • Category designation(s) for each of your posts
  • There are also a lot of skins or templates available for this platform
  • WordPress software is free

WordPress 1.2 cons include <>
  • You need your own server and an installation of PHP and MySQL
  • PHP is a bit tricky, especially if you are not a programmer
  • Template and CSS tweaking is a little bit difficult in this environment
  • The Recent Posts feature is not a standard feature with the default installation -- a "Hack" is required.
  • The ordering of the Link Categories is not a setting within the program but rather an option call to a PHP program call located in the template, ugh..

In conclusion... I thought the WordPress platform was going to be easier for users to "tweak". I believe this program is either used by software types, those with time to tweak or design firms or office staff that do the tweaking for the average blogger. What is an average blogger? Someone who wants to blog and not "tweak" but still have their personality integrated into the design of their blog. Blogger is a lot easier to use and I feel the average Blogger will love it. And yes I believe Blogger is feeling that love...

I will continue to use and support both platforms because it provides me with hands on experience from a software development perspective and because I like these tools...

<> Revised 11.30.04

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