Review of Thingamablog: Free Standalone Blogging Software

Review of a free offline blog-making tool


Review of Thingamablog: Free Standalone Blogging Software

by Christopher Heng, thesitewizard.com
Written: 21 October 2007

Thingamablog is a free, open source, standalone blogging software for any system that has Java installed, including Windows, Linux and probably also Mac OS X. With this software, you can publish a blog to any web host even those without PHP and Perl support. Static pages are generated by this offline blogging tool and uploaded via FTP or SFTP to your website. If you wish, you can also publish to a local directory and manually upload your blog.

You can find Thingamablog at http://thingamablog.sourceforge.net/. The version I reviewed was 1.0.6. If you are using a later version, some of the issues I mention below may have already been fixed.

What I Like About Thingamablog

  1. Easy to Set Up

    Setting up a blog with Thingamablog is extremely easy, and is probably easier than setting up a WordPress blog since there are no script configurations to muck around with or server-side databases to set up.

  2. It Generates Static Pages

    Static pages are useful since they make your website appear responsive to visitors. Dynamically-generated blogs have to look up a database for the relevant data and recreate the web page each time a visitor loads a page from your site. This slows down the overall responsiveness of your website and introduces increased server-load. If your website has many visitors, dynamic pages can even bring down your entire web server.

    With Thingamablog, your posts or articles are generated at the time you create or edit your post. The completed page is then uploaded to your web server. When visitors load your page, your web server merely sends the page that Thingamablog created at the time you posted. This speeds up your site and reduces the stress on your server.

  3. Ability to Import Blogger Templates

    If you do not like the website templates supplied with Thingamablog, you can simply get a template created for Blogger, a free blogging host, and import it into the software. This facility gives you access to a wide variety of blog templates.

  4. Ability to Maintain Multiple Blogs

    Thingamablog allows you to create and maintain multiple blogs.

  5. Generate RSS News Feeds for the Site and Category Pages

    Thingamablog is able to generate RSS newsfeeds for your site as a whole as well as, optionally, individual news feeds for each category you create. The default templates, however, do not have the basic feed autodiscovery tag, so browsers like IE 7, Opera and Firefox will not automatically display the feed icon in the location bar as a simple one-click subscription to your feed. Adding this tag is, however, a simple matter of modifying the template files.

What I Dislike About Thingamablog

All is not rosy, however, with this free offline blogging tool. There are a few things I find problematic with the tool.

  1. No Way to Change the URLs or Permalinks of the Article Entry Pages

    The individual posts or article pages generated by Thingamablog have URLs like "/archives/2007/10/entry_0.html", "/archives/2007/10/entry_1.html", and so on. There is no way to change this behaviour so that you get a URL like "/category-name/post-title.html" the way you can with WordPress. As mentioned in my article How to Make Your WordPress Blog Search-Engine-Friendly, modifying the URL to embed your post title and optionally your category has certain advantages when it comes to search engine friendliness, future-proofing and descriptiveness for human beings.

  2. No Way to Disable Archive Sections

    There is no way to configure the software so that the individual archive pages is disabled. You might want to do this if you want to avoid duplicate content proliferating all over your website. That is, if you make a post about, say, "Widget XYZ", your post, in its entirety, will show up on your main page, on your archive page, your category page, as well as on your individual post page. This leads to the duplicate content problem mentioned in my article on How to Create a Search Engine Friendly Website. Note that this problem is probably not restricted to Thingamablog. Some other free blogging scripts may also suffer from this defect.

  3. No Way to Cut-Off the Number of Lines Shown on the Main Page, Category and Archive Index Pages

    Related to the problem of not being able to disable archive pages is the lack of facility to tell the software to post only, say, the first 10 lines of each article on the index pages (main page, category page and archive page). Having such a facility will go a long way in helping the blogger avoid the duplicate content issues mentioned elsewhere since only a few lines of the article will be displayed on these index pages. When only partial content is listed in the various indices, webmasters from other sites will automatically know that they need to look for the URL to your full article and link there.

  4. No Built-in Support for Visitor Comments

    Since Thingamablog generates static pages for your website and does not install any script onto your web server, comments are not supported. This may not be a disadvantage to you if you don't want to enable visitor comments on your article pages in the first place.

Verdict

I think Thingamablog is a useful and easy-to-use free blogging software that is particularly useful if you want to create blogs that do not impose a large server-load and that do not need visitor comments. If Thingamablog's developer adds features like customization of the URL of article entry pages and the ability to cut-off posts for the main page, archive page and category pages, I will give this software an unequivocal thumbs up.

Copyright © 2007 by Christopher Heng. All rights reserved.
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