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Saturday, 29th June 2002

Article publisher part 2: Flat file database blog tools

I have been meaning to convert the 200+ pages IMHO review site to a database/template driven site, but mySQL is not a viable option yet. I have been testing perl based flat file database based news-publishing, content updating and CMS scripts but most fall short in one way or another. Ideally for me, such a system should allow
  1. customs fields
  2. comprehensive template control, both in final output and data entry area
  3. category support
  4. internal search engine
  5. ability to handle already existing HTML files
For a while I thought the best of these are commercial packages, probably fogged by the fantasy of "pay for what you get" and that problems don't really surface until you have spend days with one. I even recommended "Article Manager" to a client based on their demo site. But I recently found "MovableType"...

  • MovableType (
    My current favourite, though I have less than 30 hours of experience with it so far. Classified as a web journal/blog program, but it comes close to doing what I would expect a CMS to do.

    What I like
    Customisability: program ui, output options, templates. Good user community. Static pages are more search bot friendly.

    What I don't like
    No custom fields. No email submission. Doesn't handle page spanning well for long lists. The "Convert line breaks" option is unpredictable. Pages have to be published and updated upon every change. Double storage system where articles are kept in a flat file database as well as static published pages.

  • Article Manager - is it worth US$299?
    I recommended this program to a client and spent a good deal of time creating layout templates for them. It obviously was a more capable script than some of the freebies out there. It does however come with its commercial quirks which are annoying and unnecessary. First the script make a web call to on every launch. slowing you down and achieving nothing except giving the developer more control over you! Next the constantly expiring cookie, so you have to relog in after a while, despite the fact that you can supposedly change this default behaviour - it doesn't work; the perl script itself is encrypted (binarised), you can't make any change and are stuck to the restrictive layout the developer wants you to use; the developer responded to the various email I sent, but was not particularly interested in feedback, and definitely not in modifying scripts to suit me need. At that price, I certainly expect that!

    What I like
    Generates individual html files, supports multiple categories, generates global headlines, single category headlines, custom user fields, search engine.

    What I don't like
    Generated files are kept in a single pre-set directory, encrypted script so you are stuck with program UI. Report to developer's site! Fixed directory structure. No user comment system. Requires ssi or php to be useful. No mods. No user community. Cannot pin an article, special message etc. No hidden categories. Expensive.

    No, after seeing MovableType, No, not worth the $299 for what you are hassle you are buying! I will offer to switch my client's installation to MoveableType at my expense.

  • Greymatter
    Very good single category, weblog program, easy HTML templates (via browser though). The small size allows multiple copies to be installed. Quirks: Cannot delete article once created. Cannot change article date... An interesting feature: there is a hack that accepts email as an article submission method!

other candidates: pMachine, csNews, ...

Article publisher part 1

6 May 2003, I never went the MoveableType route for I switched host and gained mySQL access. And found a more appropriate solution - pMachine...

Kim | 10:51pm


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