Apple’s blog server.

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.

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