For the past couple years I’ve been using Community Server for blogging, only because that’s the platform that’s been part of SQLServerCentral.com. It works, but it’s not fancy. The only other platform I’ve used is Blogger. It’s functional, easy to set up, let’s you use your own domain name, and of course the price is right – free. Not a lot of interesting options for it though.
So, I spent some time looking at the alternatives. Ideally I wanted something I could host on my own server, as it’s a sunk cost compared to an externally hosted solution which might run $50-$150 a year. Not huge money, but just seems wasteful to spend it! My server runs Windows, so I needed something that would fit there, not interested in spending time to deal with Linux just to run a blog. Being a SQL guy, would be a definite plus if it used SQL Server for the data store. I was also hoping for ASP.Net support. I’m not a super coder, but I can get most things done there and it’s nice to have the option if needed. I also wanted something that other bloggers used – maybe a bit of that is to run with the crowd, but more to be able to learn and share lessons/solutions directly.
Here are a couple links on options:
Just not a lot of SQL/.Net options. Ones that work, yes, but not with a really vibrant community. After looking at the main contenders WordPress had my attention, even though it was PHP and mySQL. I was dreading dealing with PHP, but it turns out that IIS will serve PHP very nicely via something called FastCGI. There’s a post I found that potentially would make it run on SQL Server, but I figure there is enough to learn (and break) without trying that, at least initially.
I did a test run on a local server just to prove to myself that it worked, did the install on the public facing server in about 30 minutes, then spent another hour adding various plugins and looking for an initial them. Live Writer connected right away, no issues.
I’ve had it running about a week and so far I’m really pleased. No doubt part of that is just the thrill of having some control over things, but it’s also very smooth. The plugin management is very nicely done. The only downside I’ve seen is the upgrade. I’m running v2.9, v2.9.1 is just out and it’s essentially copy the new files over the old files. That’s fine, as long as you haven’t modified anything. Decided to postpone that a week or two and do a test run before trying it live.
I’m a tool guy. I like tools that help me do things, stay out of my way, and don’t demand a lot of extra time. It’s entirely possible that all the other platforms are equally good, but I’m not sure I’ve seen or heard of a feature I don’t have that would make me crave moving to something else. Could happen tomorrow, we’ll see.
I’ll follow up next week with a post about the install, the plugins I’m using, and some lessons learned so far.