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Summary:

I’ve moved my own blog over to using the Blojsom-based weblog server that is now included with Mac OS X Server 10.4 so that I could try it out and see what’s in there, and what’s not that I’d like to be in there. First off, […]

I’ve moved my own blog over to using the Blojsom-based weblog server that is now included with Mac OS X Server 10.4 so that I could try it out and see what’s in there, and what’s not that I’d like to be in there.

First off, what I like about Apple’s new blog server:

1. Easy for a server admin to set up – Good Lord, it’s easy. Once you have OS X Server installed, go under Web in Server Admin, select the Weblogs tab, click the checkbox for Enable Weblogs and hit Save. Congratulations, your users now have the ability to set up their own blogs.
2. Easy to for your users to work with – Point your users to http://server.name/weblog to either access a listing of all the blogs hosted on your server, or to enable them to set up their own blogs for either themselves or their group by entering the appropriate shortname in the blank provided.
3. Web interface for posting – it’s easy for your users to set up new categories and post new entries through the web interface.
4. Built-in themes – Nice of Apple to provide five themes.
5. Ability to work with third-party blog posting apps – This blog server supports posts that are submitted via applications tha support the Metaweblog API, so there’s a number of third-party posting applications that can post to your server.
6. RSS support – Complements Safari’s RSS reader. Supports Atom, RSS 1.0 and RSS 2.0.
7. Built-in searching.
8. Calendar-based navigation – allows you to easily search by date.
9. Integration with Open Directory for authentication and access controls – You can set up controls for who can, and can’t see your blog, as well as leveraging your OD system for managing authentication.

What I don’t like:

1. No easy way to remove users’ blogs after they’ve been removed from your server – I can physically remove their blog directories, but I haven’t found a way to remove them from the listing posted at http://server.name/weblog.
2. No ability to delete comments – Once it’s there, it’s there. You’ll need to manually edit the entry to remove the comment, or remove the entry.
3. No email notification for new comments – This is something I really want to see.
4. No way to ban commenters who have shown their trollish tendencies.
5. No way to disable comments.
6. Knowledge of HTML is assumed – You can post links, photos, and anything else you want on your blog, but you’d better know at least some HTML as there are no html tag buttons to help like there are on other blog server packages.

What I want to see in future releases:

1. More themes – More! More! Or at least give me an easy way to adapt existing CSS themes for use with my blog.
2. Email notification for new comments – As noted above, this is something I’d really like to see as I’ve found it very useful with WordPress.
3. Better comment controls
4. Deleted users automatically having their weblogs removed from the main weblog listing on the server.
5. HTML tag buttons in the posting page – At least tag buttons for bold, italics, underline, link, blockquote, and list.
6. Ability to add a blogroll.

In short, I like Apple’s blog server but it has a ways to go before it catches up to Moveable Type, WordPress or TypePad. Apple has made it very easy to add things (entries, categories, comments, new blogs) but not always the ability to remove items that aren’t wanted or are no longer needed.

Anybody else using Apple’s blog server and has more insights to add? Let me know in the comments.

Update 7/4/2005: I’ve managed to fix some of my outstanding issues with the blog server, specifically the email notification of new comments and being able to disable and delete comments on a per-entry basis. I’ve managed to do this by enabling the blojsom admin console, which Apple had disabled by default, then working through the settings.

To enable the admin console, you’ll need to open Terminal, then enter the following command:

sudo pico /Library/Tomcat/blojsom_root/webapps/¬
ROOT/WEB-INF/(username)/flavor.properties

Once you’re in, you’ll need to edit the flavor.properties file to remove the hash mark (#) from in front of the #admin=org/blojsom/plugin/admin/templates/admin.vm, text/html;charset=UTF-8 line, then exit and save changes. After that, I rebooted to make sure the change had taken effect, but that may not be necessary.

After my server was back up, I logged into my server as http://server.name/weblog/username/?flavor=admin, was prompted for my blog’s login and password, and then was in the main blojsom administrative console, where I could access the settings I wanted.

By Rich Trouton

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  1. Awesome Rich! I had no idea Apple had come out with a blogging software!

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  2. It seems a bit short-sighted to me that Apple hasn’t provided anything in the way of comment control. After all, it’s the biggest single problem with most blogs (and blogging platforms), and although the uptake rate of OS X Server-based blogs is probably going to be slow at first, why not build in comment management (and spam prevention) from the very start?

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  3. I been using the built in blog for a while now and its a grate blog for “users” i just cant bother to change and use another one for myself. I would like to see what u just mentioned.
    If someone need an internal weblog server running a OD this is easy and grate for the users they dont need to know anything to use it or start it.

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  4. The issues are probably more to do with Blojsom than with anything Apple is doing I would think. I tried Blojsom out a long time ago and wasn’t impressed. Movable Type and WordPress were superior in many ways. Of course depending on how good the development team is it could be quite a bit better now but WP and MT have also gotten a number of upgrades since then.

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  5. You Can have have the server email you when you get a comment, I poked around the config files and turned it on. Can’t remember exactly what I put in there, but I found it just by being nosey.

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  6. For notification you need to enable the email plugin. I think that is how it works but I never use it. I know the comment plugin has an email setting.

    Banning is available in a number of flavors including IP bans.

    You can disable comments for a blog in general or a specific post. I like usign the meta plugin along with the macro plugin to simplify things.

    Unfortunately I am more familiar with blojsom than the Tiger install of it. I do have a Tiger server though so I will check out what is available by default and try and give some better guidance.

    Some of this will require editing at the text config level by the way.

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  7. Rich Trouton Monday, July 4, 2005

    Zac,

    What config file did you edit in order to enable email notification of comments? Thanks.

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  8. Take a look at Pebble pebble.sourceforge.net. It is much simpler then Blojsom and yet it has already addressed most of the shortcomings of Blojsom that you pointed out above.

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  9. Rich Trouton Monday, July 4, 2005

    I’ve made an update to this entry, for all those who are interested.

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  10. Blojsom is OK for users, but has pretty unintuitive admin UI. I thought that it felt like it wanted to be administered from the command line, but someone had put a web UI on top to make it easier.

    I looked around at blogging software a bit lately, and actually tried Blojsom seriously for a while. The best thing about it is that it runs as a Java servlet. So, if you already have Tomcat running, it’s an easy install.

    For actual use, I’ve switched to Drupal. It’s a PHP app. It works well, and the admin UI is slightly less convoluted than Blojsom.

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