Some New Blog Tools


I have just found a new blog tool called pyblosxom, which is described as "blosxom with a touch of python". As the description has suggested, it is similar to blosxom in terms of functionality, i.e. putting all your blog entries into plain text files in nested directories, and then the CGI will do all the work for you. However, instead of using Perl, it uses a much better language, i.e. Python - at least the source is hackable to me now. I downloaded the latest 0.7.1beta version from the website, and found it is actually much more troublesome to install than the original blosxom. The Perl version came with only one single file, where as the Python version has lots of modules, the main CGI file, and a configuration file. However, it does much more than the Perl based blosxom as it has quite a good plug-in architecture, which adds functionalities like calendar, commenting, trackback pings, archives, output formatting, etc.

I install it on a loaded Athlon 1.1Ghz running Mandrake 8.2 and Python 2.2, and it is not that difficult to get it installed, and straightaway you can blog in the same way as blosxom. Fire up your favourite text editor, write some thing in there, and then save it in the content directory. Now point the browser to your pyblosxom installation, and it picks up the new entry straight away! I found the blosxom-like blogs very good if you have the direct access to your CGI server, i.e. it is on a network drive or something, so you can blog by adding/editing/removing files in the content directory. However, I found it might not be that easy with hosted sites, where you usually have only FTP access to your files. In that case, having blogger API implemented in the blog tool might be helpful. And guess what, pyblosxom actually implements some of the blogger API by saving the new post into the content directory. It might get tricky though if the webserver/CGI process is running as a different user (instead of suexec or cgiwrap).

Another concern I had with blosxom-like blog tools is their performance. For each page viewed, it is a CGI process fork. Moreover, it has to scan all the files in the directory, filter out the old ones, and the pass through formatter to generate HTML documents, whenever someone requests the index page. With pyblosxom, it also has some preformatter caching support. Move rover, it is also possible to deploy it with mod_python so that it runs in a persistent Python VM inside Apache.

If I am picking a blog tool again for my blog site, I might not go for MovableType. It was a good choice back then, but with all the newer kids on the block that are more efficient, more flexible, more hackable and having a more liberal license, I might pick something else instead.


From Glenn's blog he has noticed another w.bloggar-like GUI blogging client - Zempt. Instead of trying to work with 10 million different blog tools out there, it just focuses on MovableType by supporting all its special XML-RPC functions. So it supports things like trackback pings, categories, etc. I just downloaded the 0.3 release. While it is not an eye candy like w.bloggar, but it feels much more functional than it when it works with MovableType blogs. Moreover, it is an open source software, and you know that it is going to be improved over time.

Give it a try if you are blogging on w.bloggar to a MovableType host.

From Glenn's blog again, they seem to have started beta testing since late June. From its list of features it is much better than Blogger, and it has MovableType engine implemented in the backend. From Glenn's blog hosted on TypePad's beta hosting site, it looks quite MT like. However, I would like to find out how much interface change it has done to the stock MT. I'll be watching.