I would like to try something different than MovableType for online communication involving my classes this fall. MT is great, but it’s more complicated than is necessary for students who are required just to log on, type in an entry, and log out. Also, MT makes adding and editing the permissions of new weblog authors very tedious and time consuming. For me, two desired characteristics of an alternative software are that it must not require MySQL, because the server I have access to does not have it, and it should allow students to sign up for their own accounts, so I don’t have to do that work. Drupal would be nice, but it was designed for MySQL (although it will work with PostgreSQL); I don’t want to have to monkey around for hours to make it work. I also like WordPress because the interface is very much like a simple wordprocessor, but again, it needs MySQL.
Update: After more coffee, I remembered this “Blog Software Breakdown,” which I had referenced back in May. My ideal system would have flat-file data storage and open registration. Blojsom, MovableType, and Pivot meet the first requirement. Of these, only Blojsom meets the second requirement.
Update 2: Okay, Blojsom requires “Java 1.4 Servlet 2.3/JSP 1.2-compliant app server (e.g. Tomcat).” I basically know what that means, but they might as well be speaking a different language. Outside my expertise, unfortunately. I can handle XHTML, PHP, a little Perl, MySQL, and PostgreSQL. Beyond that, it’s like listening to the teachers in Peanuts: “Wa-wa wa wa wa-wa.”
If I upgrade to MT 3.0, is the multiple-author management easier?
Update 3: It looks like Blogger is the best compromise. I’m using the ftp option to transfer files to my faculty account. Check out http://www.americandialogues.us. (Note that you can buy your own domain names at NameCheap for $8.88 a year.
I am planning to use MT blogs for each of my three classes and to have the students use the comment function, and for the one class I want to have blog themselves I am going to get them all signed up with Blogger accounts. Does this sound too unwieldy? Is there an advantage to having us all using the same software?
I’m considering Blogger, Miriam. I plan to have one course blog to which every student contributes, rather than having them each use whatever system they want to use. I want them to be able to ping other blogs in order to trigger TrackBacks, and I want TrackBacks to register on the course blog. I want comments enabled on the course blog. Unless I’m mistaken, one must use HaloScan in order to use these features. I’d rather have things running on the machine that I have access to, rather than on commercial services (Blogger/HaloScan) that might crap out or turn wunky for periods of time.
I see you’ve decided to go with Blogger. For now, I’ve been too lazy to use HaloScan, but I think Blogger should work well for the type of work you’re planning to do.
I wrote a comment this morning, but the ‘Herder server was acting funny.
Yes, Blogger (which has a reputation for being a weak blogging tool) actually has everything I want except TrackBack. I’m not going to use HaloScan, and I’ll just do without TrackBack.
I am planning to get my Blogger students to sign up with HaloScan. Have you heard anything bad about it?
No, I’ve not heard anything about HaloScan one way or the other. Chuck’s used it before.
I’ve never personally used HaloScan that I recall, but some of my students found it to be easier to use and more reliable than most comment systems.
* I switched to blogger for my own official and unofficial blogs, though I can easily imagine switching to WordPress in the fall. I do have my own server space via ICD Soft. I don’t have stock or attachments in the company, but they do provide a very good service. It cost me $60 last year and $45 this year to renew, and for that, I get a lot. Besides the domain name and the MySQL type of stuff, I get something like 400 MB of space, as many mailboxes as I want, 20 mailing lists, ftp stuff, etc., etc. For me, well worth it.
* The only problem with Haloscan that I can see is that it cuts off comments at a certain number of characters, unless you upgrade to the “not free” version. Of course, maybe comments shouldn’t be that long…
HaloScan trackbacks work just fine, the problem is the “documentation” on how to do a trackback ping is just…bad, and the usability aspects of the form itself can lead to confusion for newbies. If you decide to go with HaloScan, I’ve written a sort of one-sheet for “how to trackback w/ haloscan”, although I haven’t posted it on my blog yet (lazy). Just holler for it. Oh, the free HaloScan accts have a 1000 character limit for comments, which either a) should be sufficient or b) just means those who want to post long comments do two-part comments or somesuch. In the grand scheme of things, not a big deal, although I did upgrade my HaloScan acct because I have verbose friends. :)