Blogging from University

When I blog about things at work, it’s normally stuff that’s already been done. Completed tasks. In the past, as it were. This is some discussion about things that haven’t been decided, and reflects only my thoughts, and I’m not terribly important, so don’t read any more into this than you would the mumbling drunk at the bus-stop.

We’re looking into rolling out some kind of blogging at work. One blog per student, one blog per member of staff, one group blog per module in a degree, one group blog per department, one group blog per some-people-who-want-a-group-blog and so on. That kind of thing.

As far as I can tell, there are two primary candidates: WordPress MU and Roller. WordPress MU is the software behind wordpress.com and most people have heard of it. Roller is the open source blog server that drives Sun Microsystem’s blogs.sun.com employee blogging site, [and] IBM DeveloperWorks blogs.

Some important attributes:

  • WordPress MU is PHP
  • Roller is Java
  • WordPress MU does not appear to support LDAP
  • Roller supports LDAP via Acegi
  • WordPress MU has good community support and a lot of plugins and themes (via WordPress and wordpress.com)
  • Roller looks like a more solid codebase, but has a smaller community and far fewer plugins and themes

I think it would be easy for us to look at the WordPress community and choose it because of that over other alternatives, which we hadn’t given a chance. It would be interesting to know why exactly Warwick chose to implement their own blogging infrastructure as opposed to working with the Roller team, since it appears to be similar in a number of ways.

I’m also biased; we’re a Java shop and I’d hate to see us rule out a Java option if it would be better in the long run, but I’m wary of selecting it just because it is Java. It’s a tough choice to make, and at the moment time is precious so a full evaluation is unlikely, or “for the future”. Any thoughts are warmly welcomed.

Published by

11 thoughts on “Blogging from University”

  1. Right away I would be thinking custom PHP option, which wouldn’t (and I haven’t thought very hard about this) be too difficult or time consuming to make.

    The nice thing about wordpress is that, should you want to, you can take the good bits and put them into your own app as you wish.

    It’s actually a really nice idea… I suppose the greatest difficulty would be managing the list of those who get blogs (students, etc.) or perhaps even the massive database the scheme could produce. This is a dream UI project in many ways, too.

    I would be interesting in seeing where this goes, if anywhere.

  2. Actually the management and database side are relatively easy, we’re more concerned with adequate application infrastructure.

    “Right away I would be thinking custom PHP option”

    See, that’s not going to work because it means a dedicating at least one developer full-time to the job of creating it, and the massive maintenance burden this would bring.

    If we use an existing solution (with any changes we make ideally committed back to the main codebase) we get a free upgrade path when changes and fixes are added.

    Again, we’d rely on the main product for most of the UI, but we don’t have any UI designers in-house so it’s not as if we’d come up with anything better anyway. 🙂

  3. Well, My blog is a Roller deployment at jroller.com and I use WordPress on a project blog. WP Kicks Roller’s ass any day: performance, ease of configuration, extensibility.

    Besides, WP delivers HTML with superior quality than most (all?) roller themes; you have far more control over the urls that WP generates, and the defaults are much better.

    By the time you need to scale it so high that MySQL can’t handle it, your options will be different.

    It’s a sad thing that the Java community hardly ever delivers good community tools.

  4. Surely the performance issue is one of a hosted solution vs. not?

    I agree with you in terms of extensibility, and mention this in my post, but this probably isn’t an issue for a hosted solution – we probably wouldn’t offer the ability to extend their blogs and off the top of my head there’s no missing functionality that we’d want to bundle straight off.

  5. FYI, I’ve just got LDAP (NDS) working with WP 2.02. Instructions were well hidden, like lots of open source documentation, but it is very possible (and easy, in retrospect).

  6. Ah yes, I had seen that before, but last time I looked it didn’t include the patches for WP 2.x. Cool, thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.