I spent a little while yesterday, and most of the day today, playing around with a few web-logging systems, trying to evaluate which to use for the next generation here on the site. I have a fairly simple set of requirements:

  • PHP/MySQL base, since some hacking will be required to convert what I already have and I’d rather do it with familiar tools.
  • Built-in comment system with user registration optional and no clunky email-based activation.
  • Archive view by month or by category.
  • Entries/comments in plain text or HTML (no BBcodes, GMcodes or other half-assed kinds of markup).
  • Reasonable configuration/administration, reasonable database format, reasonable look and feel, etc.

I looked at b2 and pMachine in the greatest detail, Drupal and Nucleus more briefly, and many others only very cursorily. Overall, I came away pretty disappointed. I don’t think my requirements are too weird, but everything I looked at fell down badly in at least one area. I don’t think I could use any of them without either major hacking or major changes to the look and feel of this site, and neither option appeals to me very much.

Right now I’m thinking of just abandoning the whole “one package that does everything” idea. I already have a content-management system that works just fine; you’re using it now. I already have a comment system. It really shouldn’t be all that hard to add some hooks to tie them together a little better, and maybe share a little more code between them, and get something that at least looks more integrated. While I’m at it I might play a bit with some different layout ideas, so don’t be too surprised if there are subtle changes in how things look. Don’t worry, though; I don’t want to change the look very much. The most you should notice is more consistent behavior with respect to navbars and such, and the addition of a comment link to each log entry.