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    28 March, 2005

    Blogging software - advice please

    If you were starting from scratch, and wanted blogging software that allowed you to upload word documents (speeches, articles etc) for readers to view, what would you use?

    Also, what would you recommend to allow yourself to have a photo-gallery on your blog?

    I'm going to have a rethink of the blog in May or June, and I want to look at the options.


    David said...

    A lot of this can be done free or v. cheaply but if you're looking to store downloadable files I think you'll be looking for a host (for example www.dreamhost.com). That ramps up complexity a little so ask around for someone with a few hours spare time who knows what they're doing to help you.

    If you do that, whichever host you choose, make sure you get MySQL, PHP, PERL and telnet/ssh access to the server(dreamhost will give you that but there are others - ask around)

    Your bloging tool needs to be able to give you cruft-free, permanent URLs so a piece you write might have the url:


    rather than something like


    You could use Wordpress for your blogging tool and Gallery for your ... er ... gallery. Or you could use MoveableType for blogging.

    Or you could use one of the free opensource CMS solutions I've just been looking at like Drupal (assemblyonline.org) or Mambo (www.mentrolluest.org), which include image gallery options. Drupal manages bilingualism quite well and Mambo has a plugin that's not so good (but does work).

    An advantage of moving up a gear to Drupal is that you can host multiple blogs with multiple authors (Welsh Blogs4Labour?) with RSS feed integration thrown in, with the option of writing longer, connected, multiply authored pieces ('articles' and 'books' in Drupal-speak) and fine-grained control over access and security level.

    The software will be free. You'll need to get someone to help you configure it. Your cost will be your host and the subsequent bandwidth. About $10 per month for Dreamhost's basic package will give you everything you need.

    If you want to try any or all of these options, I can arrange to give you access to the backend of most of them. I think I could trust you...

    David said...

    Forgot to mention something that might interest you. Drupal was the software behind DeanSpace (now transmuted into CivicSpace at civicspacelabs.org), the centre of the famous web-based push for Howard Dean last year.

    The main druapl site is www.drupal.org. There's a post on there comparing the popularity and performance of many OS CMS solutions at:


    and you might be interested in this, about Drupal and Wordpress (notice how I can link straight to an individual comment - that's an excellent feature):


    David said...

    And here's another Drupal site which I converted from Wordpress, trying to keep the same URL structure. This is an example:


    which looks like a Wordpress URL but is in fact Drupal

    David said...

    Another thing about Drupal. - spam management and comment moderation.

    Drupal has a module that manages Bayesian filtering on comment spam (it learns what spam is and deals with it) and the comment system can work like Slashdot (slashdot.org) or Plastic (plastic.com) where a trusted community moderates comments up or down above or below a threshold that you set. Interesting way of managing it.
    I'll stop now.

    Leighton Andrews said...

    Thanks David. I like the visual style of assemblyonline.org even if I don't like the content! You have referred me to Drupal and Howard Dean before and I had a look at it. In fact Civicspace was what I had been thinking of using for another project I am dreaming up. Any observations on Civicspace would also be welcomed.

    I guess at the end of the day what I am looking for is something that allows me - with the minimum of technical knowledge and the minimum of time - to build a site that can house easy posting, comments, downloads, photographs and ultimately video. The web company behind my official website does this of course, but I would like to move forward on other political projects that require the minimum of financial commitment. (The hosting/bandwidth costs you mention of course are pretty cheap).

    David said...

    I'd recommend Drupal/CivicSpace at the moment if you're looking for something more than just a hobby blog. If you're thinking of a focus for Welsh Labour or Assembly politics, it would be ideal - I can't think of anything better.

    Once it's setup you don't need to know much to keep it running.

    For streaming video - not my area, you must know some people at the Beeb who can advise you on that - but I suppose you'd be looking at buying bandwidth on a dedicated streaming server, separate from your normal weblog host.

    If you need a hand setting up Drupal, give me a shout. I've done it about 10 times now on different sites and it won't take me more than an hour or so to have everything running and configured; I'd be happy to spend an evening on it if it means an AM getting more into using the web for politics that aren't Tory politics...

    David said...

    If you pay someone to set things up for you, bear in mind the development rates posted by the excellent Signal Vs Noise at:


    * $150/hr Standard Rate
    * $200/hr if you want it NOW
    * $250/hr if you want to watch over my shoulder while I work
    * $300/hr if you want to help
    * $400/hr if you worked on it first

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