Jun 4, 2010

Alternative Blogging Platforms

A blogging platform is the combination of hosting service and software for the purpose of maintaining a weblog. The most common platforms are blogger.com, always hosted with google (usually with the blogspot.com domain), and the wordpress software, on paid hosting services or using the wordpress.com hosting service. Other popular services are Typepad or liveJournal. In this post I want to show an alternative that can beat these services in price, customization, and loading speed. It involves using free software (as in beer and in spirit) with the google app engine as a hosting service.


All blogging platforms have some limitations. Blogger is free and easy to use. Its scripting language, Blogger XML, is very limited, which brings problems for extensions and search engine optimization (SEO). I have the impression that it is also a bit buggy sometimes.

Wordpress presents a more professional look than blogger. It offers to download and self-host the wordpress software (which is free software), with many possibilities for extension with plugins to help presentation and SEO.

Both blogger and wordpress.com are very fast to load from everywhere on the world, because they use a content delivery system. The same is not automatically given with self-hosted blogs, where the download speed depends on the distance of the reader to the hosting server.

Blogging Software for the Google App Engine

Now, it would be great to have a blogging platform, which is freely extensible (free and open software) like wordpress, fast to load using a content delivery system, and free of costs. There is more and more blogging software emerging that can be hosted on google app engine (GAE). This fulfills the three criteria: it is free and open software, it is fast to load (because of GAE), and it is free of costs (if you don't get millions of visitors at least).

I took a look at blogging software for GAE. Some of them are still in early stages of development, others are more mature. There are huge differences with respect to feature sets. I made a wishlist of features that I want a blogging software to have. My list is based on the post Show me your open source Django blog application.

  1. (Elegant) user interface for managing the blog.
  2. WYSIWYG post editor.
  3. Publishes (RSS and/or Atom) feeds.
  4. Allows importing and exporting of posts.
  5. Post authoring in teams.
  6. Compatibility with most browsers (Firefox, Safari, Konqueror, Internet Explorer 7 and 8).
  7. Documentation of the software.
  8. Native comment system (non-javascript, because of SEO).
  9. Support for remote publishing (for example via scribefire, windows live writer or the metaweblog api).
  10. Project actively developed.
  11. Importer from Blogger.
  12. Importer from Wordpress.

List of Blogging Software

I compiled a list of python software that runs on GAE. I found it remarkable that many of the projects are written by Chinese developers, presumingly because of access restrictions to more common blogging platforms (such as blogspot.com) from within the Chinese mainland. A very influential blog software is bloog; many projects have been based on its code. Again: the projects are in different states of maturation. Setting up a blog on GAE requires at least some knowledge of programming. I put down the list without many comments. There's no special order, although I put my personal favorites as the first.
Tom Strummer Bloogdemo
cpediaPing Chen's blog
appengineblogsoftwareDeveloper Advocate
Pinax Combono demo yet(?)
Project Pickydemo
toon blog
This blogging software does not run on GAE, but I still list it because it is great (free) software as you can see in the demos.

Django Techblog"demo
byteflowdemo 1demo 2
Mighty Lemondemo

Enjoy. Please leave a comment below for questions and suggestions.


  1. what would you like to suggest? Should there be a blog at http://www.buuzo.com ?

  2. A blog is a nice way to present yourself or your company, new features you introduce, and generally to create a forum for discussion. You can download any of these software projects and bring it up on your website to do this. I tried several of them myself.

  3. in my mind, wordpress is always number one

  4. @Jenderal: Agreed, wordpress is great, if we are talking about the wordpress software. If you self-host wordpress it's a great blogging solution. What I wanted to point out in this post are some alternatives that are very fast to load and are free of cost or very cheap. They are still lacking some functionalities when compared with wordpress and they might still be more for people who like to tinker (with python), but they are coming.

  5. great post i really like it.
    keep posting stuff like this

  6. thanks for the info and explanation provided

  7. It is great that you are providing some alternatives but I think most people will just stick with the popular ones, they are already well known.

  8. thank you for these alternative...I used to think that there's only wordpress.

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  10. sewa mobil di surabayaAugust 25, 2011 at 6:14 AM

    great post i really like it.
    keep posting stuff like this

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  12. I get it clear idea about how to create blog and how it's working all the points are explained very clearly.Reading this kind of article is worthy.

  13. There are many alternatives for the blogging but I just use one and love one CMS system for blogging i.e, wordpress.
    Thanks for the information

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