(Blogging Guide) What is a Blogging Client, Blogging Platform and Blog host?

In the previous post I have described the basics of blogging. Here I will discuss the technicalities associated with a blog and the blogging process. This knowledge is helpful to start with blogging and to run a successful blog. There are three distinct components and three not-so-distinct entities involved in blogging – Blogging Client, Blogging Platform and Blog host

What is a Blogging Client, Blogging Platform and Blog host?

1. Blogging Client: The post-content is prepared using a blogging client. A client allows the blogger to forget about the intricacies of creating a Web page in HTML and allows him to focus on creating the content. A client usually includes a text editor that allows text formatting; it may include additional tools to facilitate the inclusion of pictures or other files into the blog.

2. Blogging platform: A Blogging platform is the software part of a blog which contains the code that grants a blog its features and layout. A blogging platform needs to be installed on a server, along with other essential add-ons for the blog to be functional. Add-ons include the language interpreter in which the platform is coded, like PHP or Perl; and a database where the posts are stored, like MySQL.

3. Blog host: Every site on the Internet is hosted (its data stored) on a Web server. Unless a page is put on a Web server it is not available online. A Web host is the entity which offers the Web space and web server to publish web pages. A blog host is a specialized type of web host which goes one step further and installs the blogging platform and the relevant add-ons. With a blog host, a blogger is freed from the hassle of installing, configuring and maintaining the modules that make up the backend of the blog.

To summarize this whole blogging process and architecture – a blogger creates content using the blogging client, the prepared content is uploaded to a blog host which contains an installed copy of the blogging platform. The blogging platform fuses the content with the rest of the Web page, which has the relevant code that controls the layout and features of the blog. The completed page is then published on the web server and is available online.

Various Blogging Platforms

Now let’s get into these three elements in a bit more detail –

Blogging Client
Blogging clients exists in two flavors – online and offline. Most blogging clients are online like blogger.com – you can create and manage your blog using them, but you need to be online to do it. All blogging platforms have a client embedded. Then there are clients in the form of stand-alone applications like Flock which allow you to create the blog post offline, but you need to be online to publish the post to the blog (similar to creating and sending an e-mail using e-mail clients like Thunderbird). Flock, by the way, is also an able browser based on the Mozilla engine which also powers Firefox.

Blogging Platforms and Hosts
The Blogging Platform is the core of the blog’s structure. All aspects of a blog, except the post content, are controlled by the platform. This ranges from the page color and layout, to the way in which the posts are stored and retrieved. While all platforms include a blog client, which can only be used when the blogger is online; they do not come with the host bundled. This is contrary to common perception. Many platforms, especially those that are the result of the Open Source movement are freely downloadable. A user can install and configure the platform to work on a host.
There are many blogging platforms, and selection of one has to be in the light of the knowledge of the advantages and disadvantages of each. The popular blogging platforms include Blogger, Moveable Type, WordPress, TypePad, LiveJournal etc. Of these, WordPress and Moveable Type are freely downloadable. Moveable Type which is free for personal use is not available freely hosted—even with feature limitations. While Blogger—the platform—is not freely available, it can be freely used at blogger.com. Confused? To add to it, there are blog hosts offering custom blog platforms which offer their services for free, like blogdrive.com. In such cases it is difficult to distinguish between the platform and the host. In most cases such free services are ad-supported, meaning you will have the host’s ads on your blog page. Needless to say, the platforms also differ in the features offered. Deliberation is required before selecting a blogging platform not only because of the feature differences, but also because if a change of mind were to occur later, shifting the posts from one platform to another will be an arduous task.

The options available to a blogger range from the all-for-free setup offered by Google, in the form of its blogger.com-blogspot.com, platform-host combo; to the nothing-for-free, Enterprise Moveable Type platform hosted on a paid Web host which requires a person with Web server administration and Perl/MySQL knowledge to manage the blog. Depending on the nature of the blog—personal or organizational, and the object of blogging—hobby or professional, the choice of platform will vary. In any case it is advisable to try out all platforms by signing up for free accounts or free trial accounts. The platforms which offer a free version for personal use can be downloaded and installed on your PC or can be uploaded to free web hosts online. Based on the experience with configuring the blog and using it, the platform can be decided upon. It is however important to note there is no relation between the price of the blogging environment and the popularity of the blog. Many freely hosted and created blogs are popular.

That’s all folks! Now you have all the technical info required to understand the architecture of a blog and the whole blogging process. Next we will discuss about how to choose a blogging platform (where to create a blog?).

What is a Blog and Blogging? – Introduction, Basics & Terminology

You have probably been harboring this secret desire to start a blog. Or you’ve started one and haven’t posted since ages. Or you have just been putting it off, waiting for inspiration for that first, grand post that tells the world you’ve arrived. Do not remain in any of these situations, is what I am telling you. Many would-be bloggers remains just that, because he or she is not confident about having “what it takes” and there’s this fear of failure too. Before I tell you anything else, I should tell you this: overcome that fear, and give it a shot. A lot of people are doing it. Some so mediocre, you would not believe. It is difficult to write a how-to on blogs, because everyone has a viewpoint, and it’s difficult to justify one’s own. What I write here about how to blog may not be the best advice you’ll get, but it is definitely “one of the best and simplest”, it’s my sincere effort. Now to begin with just go through the rest of this post – after finishing it you will be able to understand the basic concepts of blog, blogging and the technical terminology of blogging –

What is a blog - BlogCollab
What is a blog?

What is a Blog – Definition?
Word “Blog” is the short form of “Weblog” – a broad term used for the online variant of a personal diary but unlike diaries, blogs are mostly intended to be public. Technically, Blog is a specialized type of dynamic website – where user can write/add content (text/images/videos) as a page (called a “blog post”). Anyone who creates a blog (and blog posts in it) is known as a “blogger”. Besides being used as a noun, term blog is also used as a verb – to create blog content is also called “blog”. Thanks to the ease with which blogs can be put online these days, scores of peoples, who have anything to say are jumping on the blogging bandwagon. Thus blogs have become a powerful social networking tool, and combined with the power of the Internet, they have virtually erased geographical borders.

Why blog?
People blog for many reasons — some truly use it as an online diary, detailing their lives. The relative anonymity that the internet offers, allows even introverts to open up. Some use blogs to convey a message in a more informal manner than is possible through usual mass media channels, as in the case of politicians who use their blogs to reach out to their followers. However in most of the cases blogs are used to make money online, believe it or not but most blogs are created to get some sort of commercial benefit out of them.

Types of Blog
The word “blog” give the impression that the content is textual in nature, probably due to the association with the diary. But it is commonplace now to see blogs with pictures called photo blogs. Video blogs (vblog) are a step further from Photoblogs. Audio blogs incorporate audio clips. All of the above are similar in the aspect that they are the expression of personal opinion of a single entity, what differs is the medium of communication. Moblogging which is the latest trend in the field, refers to reading and posting to blogs via a mobile phone.

How many Blogs are there?
There are no confirmed and updated figures with regard to the number of blogs in the globally. Like most initial efforts at diary writing, blogs too are abandoned as quickly as they are created. Many sign up to blogs because they would like to try out the features of the platform first hand before committing to it. Any figure put up will be wrong if only active blogs were to be considered—of course, defining an “active” blog is a subjective matter again.
According to Technorati (the biggest blog indexing site) – “the blogosphere is doubling in size every 6 months. It is now over 60 times bigger than it was 3 years ago. On an average, a new weblog is created every second”. An estimate is that currently there are over 60 million actively maintained blogs in the world.

Blogging Jargon – Common terms used in the context of Blogging

1. Blog, blogging, blogger: “To blog” means to write an entry in the blog. The person doing the blogging is called a blogger.

2. Blogosphere: The World of blogs and bloggers, a subset of the internet

3. Post: Every writeup/article/entry in the blog is called a post or blogpost. “To post” means to write a post at the blog, it is also called “publishing”. Publishing a post means when a written post goes online.

4. Vblog: Short for Video blogs. The post is usually in the form of a video clip, also called a Screencast.

5. Blogroll: Usually bloggers create a list of their favorite sites/blogs links at a page in the blog – this list/page is called a “Blogroll”

6. Podcast/Audiocast: A blog where the post is an audio file that can be listened to via an embedded audio player

7. Trackback: When a blog is quoted and linked to by another blog, it becomes a trackback to the former blog. Trackbacks are an indication of a blogs popularity and authority.

8. Permalink: A Blog usually contain many posts. A permalink refers to the unique URL that points to a particular post. A permalink allows direct access to a particular post.

9. RSS (Rich Site Summary, often popularly called as Really Simple Syndication) – RSS is a popular standard of site content delivery and promotion to distribute it to a large audience. Most of the today’s popular blogging CMS automatically generate an RSS feed for the published blog posts. Actually RSS is a document created in XML from blog post. People desirous of being informed about newly published content on a blog need to subscribe to blog’s RSS feed. It can be read using specialized applications called feed readers which is built in all web browsers now a days. ATOM is another syndication format like RSS.

10. Bookmarking: It is difficult to remember all the site URLs one visited. A bookmark makes this exercise easier by storing the URLs as a link. All browsers have a bookmarking feature, which can be used to remember your favorite sites. Examples of such sites are reddit.com, stumbleupone.com, digg.com etc.

11. Social Networking: It is the buzz word today and in simple words means making new contacts and keeping in touch with existing ones on various sites online. Facebook, twitter, Google plus, Myspace, Orkut are some of the popular examples of social networking sites.

12. CMS (Content Management System) – This is a system (a group of applications/software) which is used to manage dynamic sites with ease. “Dynamic” sites are those which are updated frequently and have interactivity built in (commenting and editing by multiple users). For example, a Web site containing a bulletin board where many people come and interact would need to display the latest message typed in. Without a CMS managing this, it would be impossible for a Web administrator to make modifications to the webpage code every time someone adds a message. Blogging softwares like Blogger, WordPress etc are different types of CMS.

13. Pinging: In the context of blogging, pinging means informing a site server (usually blog indexing directories and search engines) whenever any change is made to a blog. Blog tracking sites like weblogs.com, technorati etc., update their listings every time a ping is received.

Enough of the blogging basics, now you are ready to know “Where and how to create a blog?” which will be covered in the next post. Do comment if you like the post….

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