Blog Design Solutions

blodds.jpgBeen meaning to write a proper review about this book for a good long while. Due to many commitments it’s not been possible to really get into the book until now. “Blog Design Solutions” is a book that was released earlier this year (from Friends Of Ed) and was written by 8 guys from around the world; you might recognise a couple of the wee rascles, Chris J Davis, Michael Heilemann, John Oxton, Andy Budd and several others (I appologise I’m not terribly familiar with their work/sites but I’m definitely going to check them out from now on). The common link between these gents is that they’re all bloggers. The difference is that they use different software to run their sites.

There are numerous sites around the place that highlight the differences between the major blogging software packages available to run your blog sites on. What this book does is give a taster, a morsel, a sampler of the major ones. The book is seperated into 7 Chapters. The first two chapters cover general information about blogging and the world of blogging. While the second chapter tackles how to set things up to test and run a blog on you machine locally. It’s a nice reference guide to have to be honest. I personnally use XAMMP, but it would be good at some point when I’ve got a bit more time to set things up in a less lazy manner :).

The next 5 chapters are where things get interesting. Each chapter addresses the ins and outs of a particular blogging engine. Movable Type, WordPress, Expression Engine, TextPattern are all covered. The final chapter is very interesting because it tackles the subject of building your own blogging engine from scratch and how you go about it.

Movable Type is covered (including the history that Mena probably tends to like to forget, ie when MT3.0 was released and there was this massive jump away from the MT solution to the WordPress solution). I was intrigued to read this chapter because honestly I think to myself what the hell is the point of using MT? It seems to me like it’s lagging behind most of the other internet blogging solutions? The answer to two fold I guess. Part of it is the fact that it’s pretty old (in internet terms) and has a loyal base of users; in addition to that it’s also the fact that there is a core base of developers that are accountable to you if in case you want something done, or sorted out. Some users want that level of support, especially if we’re talking about commercial corporate users of some description.

The WordPress chapter is special to me, because it’s the WordPress chapter (in case you didn’t realise the ‘Kode currently runs on WordPress) but more importantly it was written by my two buddies Michael and Chris, so obviously I’ll be paying more attention to this chapter than the rest of the book (hey at least I’m honest about these things). So how did the boys do? Not too bad. What’s great about this particular chapter is that their characters come throughout the entire chapter. Blogging is about interating and reading other people’s thoughts. It’s about communication and expression. They’re the only guys that spend a bit of time telling you about themselves and what their knowledge levels are. It’s a great way to ease the user into a comfort zone. Michael (at the time) was still struggling with php (no problems now I’m sure as he’s decided to take on JS as well), to prove that you didn’t need to know PHP coding in order to design and play around with WP, all you need is the drive, patience and some time.

I’ve got to admit though that the most interesting chapter for me was the final chapter by Richard Rutter. Which walks you through the process of making your own blogging engine. Why is that interesting to me when someone else has already done most (if not all the hard work for me). To be honest it would just be fun to have everything running on something I designed and coded. The thing of course is that I’m not a coder and therefore won’t realistically be able to do something like that. Also the first thing that comes to my mind is how I don’t think I’d be able to deal with Spammers. I can’t do without Akismet to be honest and I don’t understand how other people can manage without this plugin.

The book targets 2 groups of people, those that want to start off blogging and what they’ll need to know; the second group of people are those that have passed that stage and would like to learn how to customising their blogs, and what to look out for. I don’t think I’m really the core target audience, but even I found several nuggets that were really worthwhile. It’s definitely a book I’d recommend giving to the newbie who’s interested but is also a bit overwhelmed by it all, because this book holds his hand in style. For the hardened blogger the book is interesting as an overview of other technologies so as to keep abreast of what’s going on, with a couple of areas that are definitely of interest, but then again that’s not who the book is targeted at, so it’s nice that the editor made sure there was something for that group of people as well.


  1. looks like a cool book. I’d like to build a blog from scatch, but it’s a bit beyond my current abilities. I’m intending to learn how to use wordPress, infact It has been on my mind all day, and then i read this entry, hehe.

    1 Mahud
    Quote | 21/5/2006
  2. Mahud, you couldn’t ask for better teachers in Michael and Chris leading the way for you, seems like this book is right up your alley.

    2 Khaled
    Quote | 21/5/2006
  3. I bought the book having played around with wordpress a little, so much of its content was either irrelevant or sparse in new content. Because of that I wouldn’t really recommend it to somebody who’s already chosen wordpress, since it doesn’t add anything new. The chapter referred to the online codex ( a fair bit for ‘more information’. To be honest, there’s nothing really in the book that isn’t there, so I’d advise people who use wordpress to save money and head on over to the online resource.

    Just my opinion of course, but I think that it’s worth pointing out that the book isn’t for everyone.

    3 Shane
    Quote | 22/5/2006

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