ELGG – Another Multi-User Weblog Server

I just started playing around with ELGG – an open source multi-user weblog package. It also claims to do some e-portfolio stuff. It’s a really nice app. LDAP is a required feature. It can be deployed on any server you want. Templates are customizable on a per-blog basis (with selection of templates from a list of options, and the ability to create and extend templates).

It mimics Flickr in its use of tags and friends to create webs of content. And it seems to strike a nice balance between complexity and ease of use. It’s complex enough to be useful. Simple enough to not be scary.

So far, I’m very impressed. I’ll keep playing with it over the next little while, and will hopefully see how it fits in with the other options.

At first blush, it appears to be an ideal compromise between the flexibility of Drupal, and the standalone blog style of MovableType.

Drupal Vs. MovableType: Round 3

I’ve just finished installing the Kubrick template for both Drupal and MovableType. The template does a decent job of hiding the complexity inherent in these systems, and looks relatively pretty, too.

In my mind, it’s back to a dead-even horse race. The biggest drawback of Drupal was the complexity – too many widgets on the screen, so novices could get easily confused. It’s immediate benefits are LDAP authentication, and extremely flexible content types and easy publishing. Drawbacks include the mash-everything-into-one-website-with-multiple-views strategy, where it becomes difficult (impossible?) to create truly unique weblogs as part of the larger system. They all feed into the same content store, and are all displayed via the same interface.

Now, the biggest advantage of MovableType isn’t the simplicity for the end-user, but in being able to set up distinct weblogs with their own templates and groups of authors. This would be much more useful for something like a departmental website. Where Drupal squishes everything into essentially a single weblog with multiple views, MovableType creates silos of content, which can be shared (or not), and mixed (or not) as desired.

Suddenly, I’m craving a trip to IHOP, what with all the waffling I’ve been doing over this… 🙂

Playing around with MovableType

I’ve been playing around with MovableType to test it out for a potential weblogs@ucalgary rollout. It’s really quite nice. I’ve used MT 2.x before (and it’s still running on our main commons.ucalgary.ca webserver), but 3.15 is a nice and polished package. I can’t seem to get it to recognize my NetPBM installation to generate image thumbnails, but that’s not critical. I also can’t seem to get LDAP authentication working, and that’s a bit more critical. I’ll try to tinker with that when I get time.

I’ve also set up an extremely simple page (actually, it’s a blog with no content of its own) that lists the last 20 posts on all blogs in the system. Works well, and I’ve got a crontask set to update it every 15 minutes so it should scale up nicely with a balance between up-to-the-minute posts and not hammering the system. It also provides an RSS feed for the whole system, which is pretty cool.

These are things that Drupal does as well, but in a rather more clunky manner, with more complexity on the screen. MT hides all complexity behind the Admin interface, so readers aren’t exposed to any of it (which is a Good Thing).

Personally, I prefer WordPress, and will continue to use it to power this weblog. But it has issues with scalability, making it less desirable for a large-scale multi-user multi-blog project on a campus scale.

It’s interesting that this non-project has gone from an idea tossed around between Paul and myself on the flight back from Northern Voice, to something attracting the attention of Information Resources, and of Information Technologies (who apparently are hesitant to come near this puppy for fear of being left to support it).

UPDATE: reworded some text to sound less confrontational.