Some time ago, I got asked why we are making b2evolution. I started writing a blog post about it, but didn’t finish it at the time. Today seems like a good day to round it up ;)
Short answer: we want a system that saves us time on website maintenance. Even more so, when you maintain multiple websites: you don’t want to handle upgrades and tuning multiples times.
b2evolution does that by reducing the number of independent pieces that need upgrading and catering. Everything you need is integrated in a single package, including user accounts, forums, private messaging, documentation publishing, and of course: blogs. And that single package can support multiple web sites on a single installation. Finally, it can auto-upgrade itself.
Granted, the amount of integrated features can be a little overwhelming at first, but if you’re in for a rather large and complex website, or better yet: multiple websites, nothing will save you as much time as b2evolution in the long run (meaning: once initial setup is done).
Personally, I have built many websites since I started crafting my first HTML pages at UPenn in 1993. And, throughout the years, I’ve used many different tools to get that done. It started with a plain text editor. That lasted for several years. Then came Dreamweaver. That was a syntax coloring editor with automation functions that made it easy to maintain sites with dozens or even hundreds of interlinked pages. But as the web continued to grow and the amount to publish was growing likewise, I quickly found myself in a situation where I had to publish thousands if not tens of thousands of pages. That is when I had to switch to what we called at the time "a blog engine". Today we call it a CMS: Content Management System.
At the time I chose to use b2 as my blog engine. But, as it turned out, it quickly got abandoned by its author. So I picked it up where he left it, and started extending it under the name b2evolution. Eventually, we rewrote the whole thing. That is the short story. You can find a longer version and how it relates to WordPress here.
But today, why continue building our own rather than using another CMS like Wordpress, Joomla or Drupal?
Well, because I tried them and they failed me. They’re probably fine if you want to publish a single website and if that site doesn’t require too many plugins to get to what you need. But in my experience, they quickly require too many different plugins and modules to be installed, upgraded and maintained separately and/or too much custom code, with an even higher maintenance burden. Furthermore, they completely break down if you want to publish many different websites.
The goal with b2evolution was to have everything we needed integrated into a single platform. Install it once. And upgrade it once when there is a new release. No need to upgrade each plugin independently and solve incompatibilities with the other plugins along the way. Beyond that: with a single install of b2evolution, we can actually run multiple sites at the same time. Again a huge time saver on upgrades.
Today b2evolution integrates all the features we need for every new website we create, including user forums, private messaging, email lists, reference materials, multilingual support and of course: multiple blogs.
No other CMS (content management system) is as integrated as b2evolution. No other CMS is as easy to maintain.
b2evolution saves us so much time on website maintenance compared to any other existing solution. In our experience, nothing else even comes close.
That’s why we do it ;)
What could make b2evolution even better?
For a long time b2evolution has insufficient documentation. I believe we hugely improved on that point in the last couple of years. Check out the Online Manual here.
We’ve also been thinking of making feature presentation videos for a long time to show them in action. We have always pushed that to "next month", knowing there was a new user interface coming out soon. That’s an endless loop. At some point we’ll need to just bite the bullet and start cranking out those videos!
Finally, we recognize some users have a hard time getting b2evolution up and running, despite web hosts offering automated install. The auto installers work fine but many times there are other configurations on the web host side that create problems (e-g: Mod Security).
Thus we are wondering if we should offer "b2evolution hosting" ourselves, i-e: a SaaS (Software as a Service) version of b2evolution. That means you could just sign up for a plan that matches your needs and get going. You’d never need to worry about installing b2evolution, about .htaccess files, Linux file permissions, apache modules, upgrades, backups, etc.
Your thoughts on those matters are welcome in the comments below!
Happy May everyone! :)