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