Oct 23, 2011

Using TYPO3 for blogging

From time to time I see questions in the TYPO3 mailing list about using TYPO3 got blogging. Since I have a blog made with TYPO3, I am going to compare several solutions and describe their advantages and disadvantages. I also share my own views on choosing the best blogging tool.

timtab

Timtab was the very first extension to make blogging with TYPO3 easier. It did not create a special solution to write posts and entries but used tt_news and ve_guestbook for posts and comments. There are also a couple of add-ons for trackbacks, pings and bookmarking (digg, etc). The last version of timtab was released in September 2006, which makes it very old.
I used timtab for a while but I was not very satisfied with ve_guestbook. It was a very insecure extension. Also bookmarking and other stuff did not prove itself popular, so there were no point using timtab for longer.

tt_news + comments

The next solution for me was to continue use tt_news but with comments extension. That was an extension developed by me for Netcreators. No idea why Ingo is listed as the author, even though there are no major changes to the extension. Anyway, we talk about other things now.
The reasons to use tt_news were:
  1. I am familiar with this extension
  2. I already had blog posts in tt_news after timtab
There are certain disadvantages to tt_news:
  1. This is a very old extension with lots of code and unclear logic.
  2. The extension does not make absolute links well. This becomes are pain when you use RSS views with RealURL. You have to play with settings to make sure it all works.
  3. You cannot customise how links appear in the list view. So you have to "outer-wrap" links with a SPAN to style it.
There are advantages to use the comments extension:
  1. Every bit of it was coded with security in mind (better than ve_guestbook!)
  2. It has a built-in logic for spam detection based on a number of links and some other factors
  3. The owner can easily configure the extension in TYPO3
  4. Approval is automatically possible for comments
There is a problem with comments extension on my blog at the moment:
  • I configured the extension to approve all comments. When the comment is posted, no message is shown to the user. I need to check why this happens but I do not have time for it at the moment.
What is missing in this solution? Obviously, trackbacks and pings. I would also love to have automatic Twitter and Facebook buttons.

t3blog

You probably heard of t3blog extension. It was released by a Snowflake Productions Gmbh, my current employer. It is a complete blogging solution. I know at least three major blogs that use this extension:
  • Snowblog – SNowflake's blog about technology
  • TYPO3 security blog – this is a blog of Marcus Krause, who is an outstanding TYPO3 security specialist
  • Iconomix.ch is a project of Swiss central bank
The advantages of t3blog are:
  1. It is a complete solution
  2. It has Backend modules for posts, comments, trackbacks and blogroll
The disadvantages:
  • Templates are TypoScript only. And they are nested very much. So you need to be careful.
  • There are certain performance issues. The blog consists of "widgets" and renders them all regardless of what you really use. So if you do not use blogroll, it is still rendered but the result is discarded.
  • There were many security issues in the past but now they are solved and there are no known issues.
  • Customisation is hard. T3blog was made to take the whole page handling for itself. So you may run into issues if you have to put it as a content element. You certain can but it could be difficult.

So, what should you use for blogging?

If you want a fresh new blog I would not recommend either solution. I would simply choose Blogger if you do not want to host the blog yourself. You can have yourown domain name with Blogger, integrate AdSense, Analytics and so on. And you are free from taking care about upgrades and security patches.
If you still want to host your blog, I would recommend to use WordPress. There is a very important principle of life: use the right tool for the job. At the moment TYPO3 does not have a fully right tool for blogging. Every solution has serious disdvantages compared to non-TYPO3 solutions.
Would I migrate to Blogger or WordPress? Definitely not to WordPress. May be I will migrate to Blogger in future. It would free me from upgrades and give me all blog tools automatically at no cost.
The only thing that stops me from migrating to Blogger right now is a lack of knowledge about Blogger. I have certain stuff here in the blog that I want to keep. These are static pages. I am not sure if I can make the same at Blogger. Also I will have to import all existing posts and redirect the domain + RSS feeds. Import is not an easy thing, I would need custom code to produce a Blogger import XML file. That means about 6 hours of work and I currently cannot afford those. So I am staying with TYPO3 at the moment. You reasons may vary.

22 comments:

  1. you can also use EXT:news and for comments you can still use something like disques. of course comments should work too there.



    news is latest technology, but doesnt have all those trackback things but it got the social things like, +1 and so on ...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Dmitry,



    thank you for this overview of what options are available if you want to blog with TYPO3. I made very similar experiences: I started with timtab, and then switched to plain tt_news with comments. Both solutions weren't exactly what I had in mind, so I relaunched my blog http://www.fabrizio-branca.de this year using pretty much TYPO3 (TypoScript) only. Every blog post is a page, so I'm free to use everything TYPO3 offers as a CMS. Post listing by category and by month, homepage and RSS feed are done using TypoScript. I used ext:comments initially and now I moved to disqus. While it was some work initially to set everything up, now it runs quite smooth. If you really like to blog using TYPO3 (I agree choosing WordPress or Blogger might be much more suited here) and you're familiar with TypoScript, I consider this as a valid option.



    Bye, and have a nice weekend,



    Fabrizio

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  3. Thanks Dmitry for this comprehensive overview. I completely agree with you recommending a full-fledged blogging solution to those who are not bound to TYPO3.



    The last months have shown that micro-blogging platforms such as Tumblr or Posterous became increasingly relevant for sharing content. In the same line, beside its role as a social networking tool, Google+ is on its way to becoming a major player, even in the micro-blogging ecosystem.



    Interestingly, I could not find any extension for integration of Tumblr, Posterous or even Google+ within TER.

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  4. Thanks, guys! The input is really useful!

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  5. I think the one reason to use TYPO3 for blogging, when You have multiple collaborators, with workspaces and versionning, when You build a corporate or political blog with powerful backend.



    You don't need to get an airplane to go to make shopping in local supermarket.



    For individual use, I would recomend Wordpress, as application, or online service.

    ReplyDelete
  6. this spring i wrote a new blogging extensions. before i use timtab and t3blog. I use Fluid and Extbase to keep it simple and try to implement most things i like from the other Extensions. I hope i can write documentation later this year and make it public. Works great on http://www.thomaskieslich.net. All Parts except the part about me is done with efblog. A small view for viewing entries with a calendar is on the way.

    For blogging with TYPO3 i like the possibilities of CE, extensions and handling files and images.

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  7. Dmitry,



    Thank you for bringing this topic up.



    I've been dealing with more and more long time TYPO3 clients finally saying "no more TYPO3" due to bad original implementation, difficulty to maintain or extend sites or simply frustration at trying to train interns and oldies how to use the system.



    As such, these folks have been saying give us Drupal or WordPress. Though I ran a Drupal firm for a while, I never was too happy with it. With WordPress though, I really love it's flexibility and out of the box punch to solve most clients immediate needs.



    Anyways, since clients want their news or blog content readily migrated from TYPO3 to WordPress, I ended up creating a TYPO3 Importer plugin for WordPress.



    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/typo3-importer/



    Though I wouldn't mind rewriting the plugin to be something neater, it has successfully handled hundreds of news imports to include images, media, links and comments. It's Ajax based, so the thousands of news site come in as well, but figure on leaving that computer on for a day.



    Personally, I use WordPress with a customized Thesis them on my blogs.



    @Fabrizio - darn beautiful site you have there.



    Ciao!



    Michael

    http://typo3vagabond.com/

    ReplyDelete
  8. Dmitry,



    You mentioned going the Blogger route for creating a blog site. You should know that if you want any long-term search result benefits, you need to be on your own domain.



    I don't know recall if Blogger handles that. I think that WordPress.com allows domain mapping.



    As you mention, if you don't need too much, the online services are a great option to let you focus on writing than sysadmin.



    Michael

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  9. Michael, yes, Blogger allows own domains.

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  10. This article was missed dreadfully in the TYPO3 universe!



    Im using t3blog since its first release and there have been huge improvements since Dimitry took over development. Thanks for that!



    A small addition:

    I would advise to check the issues (http://forge.typo3.org/projects/extension-t3blog/issues) before choosing t3blog as a blogging solution. You will notice that a few t3blog features are not quite usable atm or just not state of the art. Examples would be trackbacks / pingbacks, comment notification or a RSS fullfeed. But we're working on it :-)

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  11. Sebastian MichaelsenOctober 26, 2011 at 5:53 PM

    For my old blog I took a look at timtab which could not convince me and then used t3blog.



    Writing a blog post with t3blog you can use normal content elements, which is nice because it is very flexible. You can even put plugins into your post. But I very often had problems with the output of those content elements. They disappeared, had the wrong order and the teaser for posts was rather unflexible.



    So for my new blog I decided to try something on my own. My posts are pages now and I still use Content Elements. I have two columns in the backend, one for the teaser and one for the "read more" part. For the teasers on the homepage i use a few lines of TypoScript. I wrote a comments extension which I plan to release to TER soon. It has better anti-spam solutions than the other available extensions. I plan to do a casestudy post about my blog. Some things are still missing like RSS (I think I'll use in2rss), trackback, pingback and tags, but I'm optimistic to implement them soon. With my new blog I'm much faster in writing new blog posts - it's well usable in the backend.



    However if someone wants to start a blog I would also not recomment TYPO3. My wife started a blog recently using blogger (and a custom domain).

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  12. using pages is certainly nice because of all features but IMO this is not good for editors as there is just so much you need to know and to do ...

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  13. This is good stuff. Is it ok if I pick some content up from here for my blog? Do you have any reservations? Or terms?

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  14. No, it is not ok. I do not allow republishing.

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  15. I m looking for a solution to connect a Typo3 comment system to FE user prifile, some idea?

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  16. Hello,

    new TYPO3 user jumping late to this train...

    I need blog as *part* of my web site(s) and would prefer to have all the features of my site within TYPO3 installation.

    Has something changed in regard to T3blog's suitability as THE TYPO3 blog?

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  17. HI Dmitry

    any new update about your latest technology ?

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  18. Ok might be busy in personal life :D

    enjoy :)

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  19. Hi Dimitry sir,
    i have read your docs they were amazing. specially the timtab wit new integration, it helped us.
    We have a team of 50 developers. i wanted hardcopies of books if available. Do you take any bulk orders?? if so mode of payment.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wrote a book, the publisher sells it, not me. Please, contact them with sales questions.

      Delete
  20. Hi Anisha

    I have purchased few copies of book already. If you want for yourself you can contact me.

    Thanks

    ReplyDelete