I spent three weeks playing with the more popular blogging programs before giving up.
For something that should be simple, they are unutterably complex. The one I spent the most time with had over three thousand files in its various directories. And people complain about Microsoft's overweight software.
So I decided, once again, that it would be easier and more productive to just write my own blog software. And so I did. Starting with the software I used for The Techno-Impressionist Journal, I modified it and several days later had a blog up and running. Two days later, I had an RSS feed, comments, a style sheet, and a bunch of software that was easy to maintain and modify.
It was an interesting experience, and I'm lucky that I can build my own tools. I've been doing that for over fifty years, and it seems very natural.
The first problem in working with popular blog software was designing the "template" that gives your blog its unique look. (For some reason every blogger feels that they have to dazzle you with the unique look of their blog. I'm trying to think of a blog that I visit because of its looks rather than its content.)
You can pick from a library of templates, but there are hundreds to choose from, and you have to play with each one for a while to determine whether you like it or not. I spent over a week trying to understand and work with the underlying architecture of this, which is spread out over dozens of files. It is no simple task to modify even the simplest aspect of a blog template.
In the middle of all of this confusion, there was an upgrade to the blogging software. Another zillion files to upload to the site. (Hope that nothing important gets overwritten.)
Needless to say, the upgrade introduced spiffy new features, but things that I had "fixed" were now broken.
Here's a for instance: If the blog has an RSS feed, why can't I tailor exactly what I want to show up in the feed? Maybe I want just the first paragraph of the text to show up in the feed. Maybe the pictures should be reduced to thumbnails. Maybe I want the feed to have a blurb of text that is just for the feed and doesn't show up in the associated blog post.
There are online forums for most of the popular blogging software packages. When I inquired about modifying the RSS feed, I was pointed to the templates for the RSS feed. A brief inspection showed that the template could be modified to change the layout of the feed, there was no way to modify the content.
It was at this point that I threw in the towel.
Simply stated, most popular blogging software is designed for people who want the very latest blogging features and don't really care about ease of use. The good news is that this very vocal group gets what they want.
The bad news is that the other 99.999% of us were hoping for something that would be easy to use. We have to become php/mysql/css/html/smarty hackers.
You would think that, considering the popularity of the blogging world, with a prediction for over 100 million blogs by the end of this year, that someone would build an easy-to-use, WYSIWYG blog template editor. You would drag and drop the elements, configure the overall layout, sidebars, comments, etc. as easy as using a word processor.
There should also be a simple editor for blogs that lets you vary the layout of your content, your RSS feed, and other aspects of the blog.
I'm surprised that Apple hasn't come up with an iBlogger* package for the Mac.
* Trademark is for sale
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