It is a little known fact that Egg Freckles started its life on the popular content management system WordPress. (Version 2.1 to be exact, but I have been dabbling in the platform since at least version 1.2.) If it wasn’t for my unavoidable nature to try out new technologies on a regular schedule I probably would have stayed with WordPress for the long haul. WordPress is the most customizable blogging platform I know. It is great for beginners because there are plenty of tutorials and people ready to answer common questions. It is great for experts because of the wide variety of powerful plugins and support for unconventional configurations. Given the proper skills you can make WordPress into anything you want it to be. Because WordPress is an open source project backed by a large community and a successful for-profit company, you know it is not going away anytime soon. Because WordPress is so popular you know almost every host under the sun supports its installation, and is familiar with its idiosyncrasies. If you are an app developer writing blogging software, you would be a fool not to support WordPress. Unsurprisingly there are a large number of polished apps available that let people post on WordPress from almost any platform. Simply put, WordPress is the safe bet of the blogging world. But although its customizability, compatibility, and popularity can’t be beat WordPress is not for everyone.
I originally chose WordPress as my blogging platform in 2007 because Egg Freckles was a different site than it is today. I started Egg Freckles as My Newton Blog, an online Newton emulator filled with short 750 character entires I would write from my Newton. The online emulator idea turned out to be a dud, but my attempts at recreating the Newton interface strengthened my web skills, while posting regular entries improved my writing. I needed WordPress’s power and customizability back then to replicate the Newton experience on the web, but as time went on posting full length articles with less upkeep became a priority.
Stacey is the CMS I adopted for the re-envisioned Egg Freckles. A content management system where text files and images in a folder structure are combined with a template to create a fully functional website. Stacey was perfect for publishing long form articles with a single image, the new format I adopted for the Egg Freckles website. Stacey allowed me to post from any platform with a text editor and a FTP client, which meant I could publish from an old school Mac running System 7, all the way up to the latest iOS device. Stacey made long form blogging easy, but its limitations prevented the kind of features regular readers come to expect. A reliable RSS feed was the most glaring omission, but it also lacks a web interface to post quick links, or quoted blocks of text. After a year of using Stacey I thought it would be best to settle down with a more conventional blogging system that offered a wider range of features.
I have always been attracted to the casual ease of Tumble blogging, but could never afford the unexpected downtimes inherent with the Tumblr service over the last couple of years. Chyrp is a self hosted tumble blog solution I thought would be perfect for Egg Freckles expanded scope. Through the use of a web interface, or easy to use web bookmarklet, Chyrp allows its users to quickly republish text, links, quotes, and media from a variety of sources all over the web. Chyrp brought a reliable RSS feed, linked list, and the pagination of multiple posts to the Egg Freckles homepage. As a trade off for its ease of use Chyrp replaceed Stacey’s data structure of files and folders with a MySQL database similar to one used by WordPress. Over the next couple of months caching became a problem as Chyrp struggled to keep up with my accelerated publishing schedule. Eventually Chyrp’s instabilities combined with an irregular update schedule persuaded me to return to the single post per page format with baked html files and a databaseless content management system.
PieCrust is a CMS you run locally on your computer or access remotely from a server. All of the commands are entered in the terminal. PieCrust combines text files written in almost any markup language with a design written in almost any templating format to produce static html files. Preferences are manually configured using a text editor, and the range of options is considerable. A built in web server can be used to preview your design and configuration before you bake. I really enjoyed the simplicity of PieCrust, but manipulating my blog through the command line put an extra step in my publishing process. For Egg Freckles next CMS I would adopt a 100% GUI approach.
RapidWeaver is a Macintosh application for publishing a professional looking website without knowing HTML. I have written about RapidWeaver in the past, and although this app is aimed at beginners I find it fills a niche for bloggers who want a CMS that bakes HTML pages with a polished Mac OS X GUI. Unfortunately RapidWeaver was not designed for this purpose, and pro bloggers will need to adjust to its lack of features and preferred rich text editing environment. I love RapidWeaver’s consistency, but as a Mac OS X application it makes publishing from my iPhone or a foreign computer impossible.
The number one reason why I would go back to WordPress is because of its availability. No matter which computer I am on, or phone I am using WordPress is accessible from the web. Having a large community is helpful, and ensures longevity, but I use such a small subset of features that having a large support base, or plugin library is not that important. I wish someone would make WordPress Lite. A simple content management system that allows a single user to publish static HTML pages from almost anywhere. Until I find such a CMS I will keep looking.