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High-end open source blogging applications may have all the features you can think of, but you may not need all that. For simple blogs, a lightweight alternative like Chyrp is worth a closer look.
Chyrp runs on the PHP/MySQL stack, has a clean interface sprinkled with AJAX, and administration features that you can learn without resorting to a manual (in fact, there is no manual to speak of).
Chyrp's installation procedure is the first sign of how easy to use and elegant this blogging engine is. The supplied installer script does the heavy lifting for you. All you have to do is download and unzip the package, upload the resulting directory to your Web server, then point your browser to the install.php page (e.g. www.webserver/chyrp/install.php) to begin installation. The installation procedure asks you to provide MySQL database connection details, enter general info about your blog, and configure an administrator account.
Since simplicity is the key concept of its design, it won't take you long to figure out how to use Chyrp. The Administrator toolbar at the top of your blog provides links to Chyrp's main sections. The Write section is where you work on your blog's content. By default, Chyrp allows you to create blog posts (the Text tab) and pages (the Pages tab), which are useful for adding static content to your blog. For example, if you are maintaining a blog about OpenOffice.org, you might want to create a static page containing information about the project's history, how to download and install the office suite, or where to get help.
Chyrp relies on good old HTML for rich text formatting of both blog entries and pages -- a boon for anyone who doesn't want to learn yet another markup language. When working with blog posts in the Text section, you have a couple of simple yet useful tools for managing content. To access them, click on the More Options link under the Body area. Here you can choose how and when a specific blog post is published using the Status drop-down list. You can, for example, save a post as draft for later editing, or you can limit its visibility to only registered users only. To make a blog post appear above all other posts, you can pin it by ticking the Pinned check box. Chyrp also comes with a handy bookmarklet, which allows you to blog about a currently viewed Web page without leaving it.
The default Chyrp package provides only the most basic functionality, but you can extended it via plugins, or feathers in Chyrp's parlance. For example, the Photo, Quote, Video, and Link feathers can turn your blog into a tumblog, while the Textile, Markdown, and WordPress Formatting feathers add support for alternative markups. The Commenting feather adds a comments system to Chyrp with some fancy features such as Akismet spam protection and an AJAX-based comment reloading mechanism. Tagginator is another must-have feather that adds tagging capabilities to Chyrp.
Installing feathers is straightforward, but you have to keep in mind that some feathers are actually modules. For example, the Link and Quote packages are feathers and should be installed in the feathers folder inside your Chyrp installation, while Comments and Tagginator are modules and must be installed in the modules directory. To install a feather, download and unzip it and upload the resulting directory into the feathers directory inside your Chyrp installation. In Chyrp, go to Admin -> Extend -> Feathers and click on the Enable button next to the installed feather. The same procedure works for modules, but you have to copy modules into the modules directory and enable them in the Admin -> Extend -> Modules section.
When it comes to managing your blog, Chyrp has everything you need. The Website tab in the Admin -> Setting section allows you to modify your blog's name and description, enable user registration and set up default groups of users, and specify date format and the number of posts per page. You can tweak your blog feed's settings, such as trackbacking and pingbacks, under the Syndication tab, while the Routes tab offers you options to enable and configure so-called "clean URLs," or simple permanent links. The Manage section helps you to keep tabs on your posts, pages, users, and groups. Again, this section is hardly overloaded with features, but it has everything you need to quickly find, edit, and delete content and users.
If you plan to turn your blog into a money-making collaborative publishing platform, then Chyrp probably won't be the right choice. However, if you are looking for a lightweight blogging engine that you can easily customize to fit your less ambitious needs, check out Chyrp.