Soapbox Derby

Notes about Soapbox, a new weblog application, with comparisons to popular existing systems.

Note: Anytime the Narrator writes about his weblog software, a flood of email can be expected touting the virtues of existing software and condeming his current efforts. Understand: these comparisons are for reference only and should not be taken to suggest or imply that Soapbox is better than the weblog systems mentioned below. On the contrary! Soapbox will be a good solution for some people, but not for others. The comparisons below should simply illustrate and highlight those differences. Please consider this before sending your hurtful, belligerent, angry hate-mail. Also consider having a Gibson, and then writing in.

So then, features:

  1. Soapbox is software that you can download and install on your computer. Unlike hosted applications (such as Blogger) which are centralized, you are not at the mercy of their availibility or status. You control the software.
  2. Soapbox has an embedded database and webserver, which means virtually no setup or configuration issues, and no external database requirements. No DSN’s. No SQL commands. No Sysadmins.
  3. Soapbox is software even your least technical clients can use and understand.
  4. Even though Soapbox typically runs on your desktop machine, it uploads your website to your webserver via FTP, unlike Movable Type or Textpattern, which deliver files locally. This means you can host your weblogs on any server or platform, anywhere on the Internet. Alternately, it can just copy the files instead.
  5. Soapbox “lives” on one machine, but can create multiple websites on different servers, also unlike MovableType or Textpattern, which must be installed seperately on each server.
  6. Soapbox can also run on your server, unlike Radio, allowing you to post from anywhere, not just when using your own computer. If you’re a little bit savvy, you could even connect to your own machine from elsewhere, eliminating the need to host Soapbox on a server at all.
  7. Soapbox is written in Java and delivers its interface via its built-in webserver, so it’s cross-platform and will run on any computer, from Windows 98 to Mac OS X to Linux and FreeBSD.

Recently John Gruber wrote in, listing what intrigues him most about Soapbox:

  • You can create multiple weblogs on multiple servers
  • Soapbox is multi-user friendly by design
  • You can post with it from anywhere

Which is true. So what’s the downside?

Unlike MovableType and Textpattern which use Perl and PHP respectively, Soapbox uses Java. This is a non-issue for Mac OS X and Solaris users (and soon for Windows users as well). Currently, Windows users will need to download and install the free Java Runtime Enviornment from Sun &#8212 unless they’ve ever installed Netscape or Mozilla, which typically install a JRE for you automatically.

That’s it, then.

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