13 July 2006

What I Really Want In a BlogSystem

Now that I'm getting the hang of this "blogging" thing (humour me in my misguided belief :-), I find myself writing more than I ever did - and that's great!  But for a couple of misguided influences and accidents as a kid I might have ended up as a writer, so perhaps this is my way of playing catchup.

Prompted by the provocative "What would I do different if I had to start my blog over?" I started to mull over what I would really like to see in a blogging system.  In fact I was discussing this just the other day with "Lemnik" who tells me he is thinking of writing a new (probably Open Source) blogging system.

Tags vs. Categories

Firstly I want every post to have a set of tags associated with it, rather than having to pigeon-hole posts into categories.  Categories may work for some people, but not well for me, and tags can certainly fulfil the same function.  They also allow you to put a single post into multiple "categories". So away with Categories, and in with the Tags.

Multiple Authors

Many blogsystems do this.  Just not Blojsom.  There are a number of good reasons why Blojsom is the software that suits me best, not least are its awesome integration capabilites.  It sports just about every kind of API for blogging, but the one serious shortcoming is that it pretty-much assumes  "One Man, One Blog".  "Person" if you're feeling particularly politically sensitive.

All the Right Pinginess

Blojsom really scores here.  It will ping any blog aggregation service or search engine whenever you update your blog, and its as easy as entering the notification URL of the site into the blog settings.

Comments and Trackbacks

Of course. With spam-controls. Optional, too - some people want to turn them off, and with good reason.  On the other hand the comment setups could be a lot better - much more like forum systems.  Mostly its just a linear list of comments, and needs something much more "conversational".  And should include something from all those trackbacks, too.

Built-in Ratings

Yes, there are an ever-growing number of "rating" sites and tools out there, but how hard would it be for my blogsystem to have one built-in?

Easy Linkiness

Again, there are lots of services that do this.  I use a few of them to keep my various blogrolls, but its not difficult to provide an easy way to capture the URLs of blogs I want to list in a blogroll, and could easily include the sort of OPML/Atom feed capabilities that allow integration with the wider world.

CSS and Templates

Open up the CSS.  Most blogsystems seem to hide it away.  Blogger is a good exception, where its right out there in the template.  But god help you if you screw it up!  No going back!  Good way to make not-too-confident-in-the-first-place users really, really nervous about hacking the look&feel of their site.  Some goes for templates.


Two themes, I think:

1) Enable a much more open, multi-way conversation with my readers.  Enable them to help me articulate this stuff I'm blogging (whatever that ma be.)

2) Give me more choices in how I structure the thing - make the structures flatter, more open to integration (if I want it.)

No doubt I'll think of many more features the moment I press the "Publish" button...

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