Monday, August 23, 2004
This post contains details of my recent upgrade to ExpressionEngine v1.1 and contains the reasons why I decided to go with EE as my blogging software.
I’ve just successfully completed my upgrade to ExpressionEngine (EE) v.1.1 which went really smoothly. From the front end readers won’t notice much difference but those who are authors will notice quite a few changes in the back end. I’ve also recently added to the site a plugin which allows readers to use HTML tags in their comments.
I have to say that I really like the EE product and believe it is the best available blogging software available right now. I was recently asked why I chose to go with EE as opposed to Moveable Type or other types of blogging software available. Very simply put, in my mind EE is the best blogging software available right now for running the type of blog that I have established - below I’ve provided the background as to how I made this decision.
Background to the establishment of OracleAppsBlog
My first effort at developing an online web presence was my home page at richardbyrom.com. Having established this site and after monitoring my log files for quite some time I realised that I was not getting as much traffic as I expected. A bit of investigation in to how I could increase my traffic and exposure on the Internet made it clear to me that I was going to have to produce good content and update that content on a regular basis. At this point in time my home page was really what we in the IT industry call brochureware i.e. it just had a bit of information about me, some good links and various white papers, articles and presentations but wasn’t really interactive in any way. I then came across Mark Rittmans site and realised that I could do something similar with an Oracle Applications orientation.
I decided that if I was going to do the blog thing that I would do it properly so I bought a few books on blogging and investigated all the possible software packages I could use. Initially I wanted to integrate the blog into my home page but then decided to have a dedicated site for it. My investigations as to what types of software I should use led me to believe that there were really only two software packages worth considering, namely Moveable Type and pMachine. One of the other things I decided when I started up the blog is that I would purchase the best software available no matter what the cost (within reason). I’ve always believed in purchasing quality products even if you have to pay a bit more. Hence, I purchased both Moveable Type and pMachine’s big brother ExpressionEngine as by this stage I was wanting to establish two blogs, one for my Oracle Applications work and another one related to web design. My intention was to use ExpressionEngine for OracleAppsBlog and Moveable Type for WebDesignBlog. Firstly, I established OracleAppsBlog and have to say that the site has taken off quite well. At this point in time I have 159 members and in the last month my daily statistical averages were 3850 hits, 3387 page views and 412 visitors. About a month after establishing OracleAppsBlog I started up WebDesignBlog and wanted to use Moveable Type for this. After struggling to get it set up (ExpressionEngine set up was much easier) I finally managed to get the site operational. After playing around with Moveable Type and looking at it’s features for about a day I decided to bin it (US$150 down the drain) and use ExpressionEngine to set up the site (went and bought another EE license). My primary reasons for doing this were as follows. Firstly, Moveable Types capability to act as a community oriented blog seemed to be very limited when compared to EE. With both of my blogs I wanted to have other people participating as authors and also to be able to join as members and correspond with each other. Secondly, the category management features in Moveable Type again did not match up with those of EE. For both of my blogs I wanted to have a number of different categories and to have the capability to create parent and child relationships between the categories. i.e. have main categories and sub categories within the main categories. EE provides you with the ability to create an unlimited number of levels of categories, otherwise referred to as nested category trees. Thirdly, Moveable Type provided very limited blacklist features. EE allows you to blacklist by URL, portions of a URL, IP address or User Agent whereas Moveable Type only allows you to block an IP.
Lastly and perhaps most important, I paid the same price for Moveable Type and ExpressionEngine and my perception was that for what I was paying ExpressionEngine provided a lot more features and hence gave me much better value for money. I recently read a much more detailed and comprehensive comparison of pMachine and Moveable Type at this site. The authors findings correspond to most of what I have said here although he takes a more holistic view than I have. The only problem I have ever had with ExpressionEngine was paying for it as they use PayPal which is not supported here in Africa and doesn’t seem to be supported in any "developing" or third world nations. However, they do offer alternative means of payment and you can always make an arrangement with them to use these.
Running this blog has been most enjoyable and I have found it is a very effective way to consolidate my existing knowledge gained in the years I’ve been an IT consultant. It’s been said that to learn you must teach and certainly this is what happens when you blog. Having established OracleAppsBlog and seeing it take off so well has made me wish that I had started something like this years ago (whether is was offline or online). If you are a professional in any industry I believe it’s imperative to document what you are learning at each stage of your career lifecycle. It’s particularly important to document problems encountered and how these were resolved as this will not only help you but also other people. Obviously, writing about your own personal experiences and learnings is also beneficial - that’s one of my future project’s!