The Habari Project has taken another step on it's road to dominating the world of blogging software with the release of Habari 0.6 on April 6, 2009.
In internet years, blog software is old. Some people say the age of blogging has come and gone. Tens of millions of blogs worldwide gives the lie to that. Blogging is an important part of the internet landscape, and blogging software is one of the most important pieces of internet software many people use.
The current dominant player is WordPress, which has recently released WordPress 2.7.1. It is used by millions, many of whom use the self-hosted version of the software. It is popular, in large part because of the number of themes and plugins that are available for it.
Set aside the themes and plugins and look at WordPress itself for a moment. What do you see? Open up the admin and you see the equivalent of a busy office, with people scurrying back and forth, intent on busy business that you haven't a clue what it means. Eventually, with hours of work, you begin to become familiar with the purpose of each widget, gadget, and menu item you see. You learn to weave your own path of busy business through the contents of the office. You learn to get your work done. Still, WordPress itself intrudes. You have learned to work with it, not make it work with you.
Open Habari's admin, on the other hand, and you see a clean, empty room. There's a spare couple of lines of text at the top, maybe a box, text in the the left hand of the title bar, and a link to your blog in the right hand of the title bar. As with WordPress, you are confused, not because the busyness of unknown gadgets present for unknown tasks, but because of the lack of gadgets for any tasks. You drift your mouse over the text in the left side of the title bar and a menu drops, a menu containing links to create posts, manage posts, manage comments, manage themes, etc. Each link takes you to a new room. There is no clutter. There are no unknown or unobvious gadgets and widgets. As you work, you learn to add the gadgets you want, to get your work done without Habari intruding. You learn to make Habari work with you, not you with it.
Now look at the back end. All blogging software has to have a place to store its data. WordPress gives you the choice of MySQL or, ... MySQL. As Henry Ford is reputed to have said, "You can have any color you want, as long as it's black."
Habari gives the choice of MySQL or SQLite, with beginning support for PostgreSQL. This choice is more important than you think. The vast majority of blogs are small, and get relatively few visitors, yet the use of MySQL as the database requires the user to learn to use, and manipulate a client-server database intended for large, heavily visited sites. An SQLite database, on the other hand, is a single, simple file stored in your filesystem. No arcane setup is needed. It Just Works. Backing up your database doesn't require special commands or a management interface. It requires downloading a copy of the file.
Then there are the number of sites you can run off an installation of WordPress. You can run one, or you can run one. Sure, there is WordPress MU, but have you tried to work with it. It isn't for the weekend warrior.
Habari, on the other hand, can run multiple independent domains or subdomains out of the box, simply, on one install. You don't need to be an expert to set it up. Make a subdirectory. Point your webserver at it, create a simple configuration file, and run the installer again. In under 10 minutes you're done (doing it all by hand). Here, for example, five sites are running on one Habari installation. When it's time to upgrade, copy the files once and you're done.
But back to the announcement of Habari 0.6.
One thing WordPress has had that Habari has lacked is the ability to safely support multiple groups of users with different rights. This is the main thing the new version of Habari brings to the table. It has a granular system of access control (ACL) that allows you to set up multiple groups with very specific rights. It is now safe to open up your Habari site to outside authors and editors. You can create private posts for that limited group of people you want to allow to read them. You can even start to commercialize your material by having subscriber only sections.
One more step on the path.