When it comes to creating and managing syndicated Web content, there are as many ways of making that happen as there are tools to help you accomplish those ends. But there is one fundamental division among such tools that will help you understand and classify what they can do.
On the one side of this divide, there are tools that require you to operate your own Web server to host them. On the other side, there are online services that offer access to their servers and capabilities so that they essentially provide access to tools and publishing as part of what they deliver to their users. In this XML tip, we identify some of the most popular Open Source or free tools for those who want to use their own servers and some of the most popular free services for those who want to use somebody else's servers. All of these offerings, if properly deployed and used will, however, enable you to publish and advertise syndicated Web content of many kinds. The tool list is presented in alphabetical order for no particularly good reason.
- Apache Lenya: Part of the general Cocoon environment, Lenya provides a complete Open Source Java and XML based content management system that includes support for both Atom 1.0 and RSS 1.0 and 2.0, as well as revision control, site management, scheduling, search, WYSIWYG editors and workflow management. Overkill for those looking only for Web syndication content creation and management, but certainly viable within a larger content and Web site management situation.
- Blogger: Users can employ Blogger technology as a service through blogspot or Blogger's own services, or install and use these tools on their own Web servers if they prefer. They support a wide range of templates, skins, plus design, content creation and advertising capabilities.
- LiveJournal: A simple blogging service that works well for users seeking to create and manage basic, journal or diary-like Web logs. Its incredible popularity reflects LiveJournal's ease of set-up and use. Its support for useful features includes calendaring, to-do lists and personal profiles, as well as mood icons, but it's neither terribly professional looking nor readily customizable and is better suited for individual or personal use rather than more serious commercial or image-building applications.
- Mindsay: Another simple blogging service that offers personalized blogging services including complex search functions, a dedicated Wiki (and a very active online community), labeling and tagging functions to help identify content and link it up to other content of similar type or coverage and all kinds of social networking support. Also unsuited for commercial or image-building use, this service does offer interesting design customizations, themes and plug-ins.
- Movable Type: A platform based syndication environment, many experts consider this package to be one of the most capable and best built toolsets for personal online publishing. This platform is the property of Six Apart, the same company behind LiveJournal, but requires some technical skills for proper installation, configuration, and use. This system also works with Blogger and Greymatter, and can import and export content to/from those other systems. While free versions are available for personal use, for-a-fee installation and licensing services are also available for heavier duty commercial or image building use. This platform requires a server to run on, but can be extended or customized in just about any way anyone might like or want.
- WordPress: Another standalone Web log/syndication environment like Moveable Type or Greymatter, WordPress has the reputation of being somewhat easier to install, configure and use on one's own servers. It's free for both personal and commercial use, includes lots of good built-in features, but may also be heavily customized or extended using plug-ins and template editors. Based on PHP and MySQL, it also requires some technical expertise for proper installation and use. For more information, please visit .
There's something in here for nearly everyone and every organization, whether you're just looking for simple personal publishing solutions or something for more serious commercial applications. Do a little digging into this bouquet of tools and services and you're bound to find a workable solution that meets your needs.
About the author
Ed Tittel is a full-time writer and trainer whose interests include XML and development topics, along with IT Certification and information security topics. Among his many XML projects are XML For Dummies, 4th edition, (Wylie, 2005) and the Shaum's Easy Outline of XML (McGraw-Hill, 2004). E-mail Ed at firstname.lastname@example.org with comments, questions or suggested topics or tools for review.