If you’ve been longing for an easy way to manage Web content, PHPWebLog is worth a look. PHPWebLog is a news system written by Jason Hines in PHP with a MySQL back-end. It takes a cue from Slashdot in site layout, but is not limited to any specific layout or graphic/ color scheme — provided the user is willing to spend a little time hacking PHP. Currently at version 0.3, the project has been progressing steadily and will probably be updated by the time you’re reading this.
The package provides content management, story moderation, user comments, polls and other features that make it a near-complete solution for a content-based Web site. All of these functions are available through a Web-based administration interface. The current version of PHPWebLog does not support banner administration or any commerce functions. However, the source code contains place holders for banner code, and the long-term plan is to have banner functionality. Another handy feature provided is the export of site content in Rich Site Summary format, which allows site administrators to provide content feeds to other sites.
Setting up PHPWebLog is as simple as untarring a file, making a new MySQL database, and editing a text config file. It lacks an automated installation program, which should not pose any problems for system administrators, but it may be an installation challenge for new users. To be fair though, not many newbies have the need to install packages like this, anyway. Experienced system administrators should be able to install PHPWebLog and have it up and running in under an hour the first time, provided that MySQL, Apache and PHP are already installed.
The administration system for PHPWebLog uses the “Super Hyper-Mega Ultra-Cosmic Layout Configurator” to change the basic look and feel of the site through a Web-based interface. The information is stored in XLAY, an XML-based format that could prove useful for other projects as well. PHPWebLog comes with several different layouts to choose from, or you can roll your own. The administration system is fairly straightforward, and is easy enough for just about anyone. There are a few minor features missing from this system, including the ability to create new sections (pages) for the site but not delete them. These are fairly minor issues and will probably be set right in future versions of PHPWebLog.
If the layout changes available in the admin system aren’t enough, PHPWebLog’s look and feel can be radically changed by editing some of the config files by hand. This is a little more difficult because it is not always obvious which files need to be edited to effect changes. Although the README and HISTORY files included give a pretty good idea of where to look, it can still be a time-consuming chore.
PHPWebLog is an excellent solution for a Webmaster looking for a quick and easy news or content management system. There are a number of useful features already available, and adding features is not difficult for those with PHP experience.
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