Top 10

Matt writes “So what are your top 10 features for blog software?”

It depends what you mean by that. The top ten are the minimum you need to blog:

  1. create an entry
  2. edit an entry
  3. delete an entry
  4. add picture or file to entry
  5. archive
  6. customize look and feel (skinning)
  7. categorize by topic
  8. syndicate
  9. search (for readers of blog)
  10. comments

(I may have missed some, as it’s easy to forget as one becomes acclimated to a system)

I suppose if you built this, you have a blogging system.
But next up is where it gets trickier. I’d list

  1. “blog this” functionality, via bookmarklette, toolbar or right click. (I’d love to see it included in snagit, but I might be alone in my interest)
  2. Search and replace
  3. Backup (i.e. import/export)
  4. Metadata editing (date, author, etc)
  5. Publish in future/set publishing dates
  6. Full design control over look/feel/items (including what does or doesn’t show up, and in what order it shows up, and in what groupings)
  7. Taxonomy management, including faceted and multi-hierarchal classification, as well as “easy” classifications like alpha-numeric. Descriptions, reparenting
  8. Photo albums
    1. upload full directory
    2. name album
    3. delete multiple
    4. rotate multiple
    5. caption multiple
    6. keyword/categorize multiple
    7. manage layout (row#, col#)
    8. ordering of pictures (#1, #2, etc)
    9. blog a single linked to album, or single
    10. choose “cover”
    11. Password protect albums on an album by album basis
    12. editing pictures (least important)
      1. crop
      2. B/w
      3. red-eye
      4. darken/lighten

      obviously I’m thinking about albums a lot lately. most people don’t realize how managing multiples is critical.

  9. Workflow for zines (this would be longer than the photo-album subset. I’ll hold off for now in describing)
  10. Community moderation & reputation management

Boom, i’m out. There are so many things I could think of though

  1. design wizard (i’ll design it, if someone out there wants to build it)
  2. permissions on entries
  3. faceted filtering for search results
  4. mini subblogs for embedding in main blog, for music/booklist/blogroll
  5. easy installer with permission setting, etc

and more.

But these really depend on who the audience is… baby bloggers might be better off with easy install/design wizard than fancy taxonomy management and workflow. Zines can’t live without them.

So what are *yours*?

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9 Comments

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  1. 1
    daniel harvey

    Made are similar to yours (http://home.earthlink.net/~dancharvey/2003_08_01_archive.html#106219637225875785) but I’d add that the overall footprint for file size of the software itself and the resulting posts should be small. Users shouldn’t have to have to need dedicated or otherwise special server space to run their platform.

    Also, I’d also add that “search” should extend to the readership as well. Blogger, for example, has a search function for the authors of a blog but doesn’t give much option to expose that to the readership which is especially silly given the fact Google owns pyra labs!

  2. 2
    Matt

    I like the information on albums. One of the confusing things I have noticed about the postnuke style albums is the picture selected to represent the album looks like individual pictures themselves. It took me several minutes to figure out the page of pictures were in fact individual albums (and sometimes group of other albums) to be clicked on.

  3. 3
    Christina

    daniel, i think search for end users is more important than for blog authors. it is silly that blogger overlooks it… obviously they aren’t one big happy cult yet!

  4. 4
    Lawrence Krubner

    And these things you list, I take it, are all things that MoveableType has had? It is shame that they mishandled their pricing announcement so badly, and alienated friendly customers such as yourself. It seems me, from what little I know, that this is a company that produces really amazingly good software but has a really terrible time communicating with their customer. That is the impression I get. I have a TypePad account, and what I know of Moveable Type is from that. It seems like real solid software, and nicely standards based, and using CSS for the design, which makes it better than PostNuke or SlashCode or Phorum, which, last time I checked, still seemed to be using tables for layout (my impression is probably several years out of date).

    This blow-up over pricing reminds me of the inherent danger of proprietary software – it is owned by someone, and they can act arbitrarily. Open Source software, by contrast, is more of a community thing, inherently. Myself and some friends have been working on a CMS script, and we put it in the public domain via a Creative Commons declaration. Partly, this protects me from myself, my own stupidity. I never have to worry about making a mistake like the Trott’s did, because I’ll never be able to act with that much arbitrariness. (By the way, we are looking for beta testers, if anyone out there wants to help us.)

  5. 5
    Lawrence Krubner

    Lately I’ve been thinking it would be really good to have photo editing abilities built in. I’ve probably set up 100 weblogs/sites for friends, and it happens, quite often, that one of the first things they want to do is upload an image of themselves, which they have from their digital cameras. And they upload the image, and image is huge – bigger than the whole screen. On a small screen, all you see is there cheek and part of their nose. And they call me in a panic and say, “Hey, how can I shrink this.” And I ask if they have any image editing software on their machines. And they say no, of course, they don’t even know what it is. Really, this kind of thing is quite common. We have to jump through hoops to get that image under control – have them email it to me or have them use the abilities of the CMS to upload it to the site so I can download and edit it on my machine. Either of those options works if the image is small enough, under a meg, but if it is much bigger, then problems ensue. Most email systems filter large files, and PHP has a default limit of 2 megs on file uploads.

    I used to have the attitude that it was pointless to add image editing abilities to a CMS because every webdesigner is going to have a copy of Adobe or Macromedia on their machines. But now I’m aware that what I’ve got on my machine doesn’t matter – what’s on the customer’s machine is what matters. For that reason, I’ve begun to think that it’s really important to have the ability to crop, rotate and resize in weblog software. I keep hoping to add such abilities to my software, but I never seem to find the time.

  6. 6
    Lawrence Krubner

    I’d very much like to hear your ideas are for a design wizard.

    I had my own ideas about a design wizard recently, probably quite different than yours. My inspiration was actually the Deep Texture Editor in Bryce (a 3d tool). I love how you can, with a few clicks of buttons, combine textures in Bryce to get wild new textures. I wanted to do that with web design too. I’m thinking of a template which has a lot of style sheets attached. The style sheets should be very small and specialized – some should focus on position, others on color, others on fonts, others on something specific like how the comments look, or how the comments box looks. You might have, say, 200 of these style sheets, and maybe 100 templates, and you might use 4 of these style sheets for each template, for a total of 20,000,000,000 possible combinations. If the style sheets are small enough, the become a bit like design genes, and mixing them gives you new design genetics. And, I think it would be good if a CMS made it easy for people to do this, so that from the control panel they could click a few buttons and come up with a new combination of template and style sheets and therefore a new design. I think it might be a fun, playful way to come up with new designs. The Deep Texture Editor in Bryce was all about fun and playful and I want to get something like that.

    What’s important is that the initial templates and style sheets be done by someone who has a good feeling for design. Right now I’m paying a friend, Jane Jones, to work with us 10 hours a week to come up with new templates and style sheets to work with our software. I think by this next fall we’ll have something like what I describe above.

  7. 7
    George Girton

    After thinking about your list of stuff, I think items 4 through 7 on list 2 are pretty essential to having an archive that you can present in any meaninful way. A simple drop-down of prior posts is not cuttin’ it. And you can’t have a list of everything as an archive, right? (That’s what I have but in disarray). And click-on calendars — bad. You need the metadata and taxonomy so you can have a couple of way of presenting the archive. A few choices for your archive reader: By topic; by 2 or 3-month page going back into the past; by author.

    Publish in future comes in v. smoothly when you have date metadata.

  8. 8
    Lawrence Krubner

    How is a photo album different than a weblog that can be sorted multiple ways? Right now we’ve as simple script that lets you have a weblog and put photos in your entries, and sort the weblog by time, alphabetically, author, category or the reverse of any of these. You could create ten pages, each a weblog, and each entry could be a photo and a description, and you could sort them various ways. Is that 10 photo albums, or is a photo album something special? What do you mean when you talk about the importance of archiving multiple photo albums? I feel lost.

  9. 9
    Lawrence Krubner

    You write “# Search and replace”

    You’re saying that people creating weblog software shouldn’t rely on textarea boxes in an html form, but should have some other kind of interface where people type their text, so as to enable other some word processing functions like search and replace? Or, perhaps, there should be javascripts that enable search and replace as in a word processing document?

    Or did you mean, quite different from a word processor, that the user should have the power to run search and replace commands against their database, sort of like grep would do to flat files?

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