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! :)
b2evolution is great. Have used it for a long time (can’t remember how long, 5+ years?). Works great as a multi-site blog (Didn’t realise this is unique).
The only weakness is in themes/skins.
- There’s just not enough out of the box. (e.g. only 3 manual skins).
- No proper integration of skins in dashboard. My blog skin is now broken in blogs for mobiles. Is it a bug in the core, or in the skin? This is not something I can check easily.
So really, as the site owner, what I can use, and see is great. But the opposite is not necessary true. As a customer, they only see the content, and it’s not visually appealing.
@agent_kith Thanks for your feedback.
A couple of things that might help:
1. Can you post a link to a manual theme or manual site that you would like us to sort of “replicate” in b2evolution (please make the request in the support forums)
2. “> No proper integration of skins in dashboard.” – I’m not sure what you mean. Can you post screenshots of the issue in the Support Forums?
Comment from: Evelyn J Visitor
I prefer decoupling and it seems to be where the CMS industry is headed next. And given the number of data breaches in recent years, I definitely don’t want nor need a login system coupled with a CMS let alone packages that should be part of other standalone software products. Yes, a solution requiring setting up multiple products is more difficult to setup initially, but well worth the extra effort in the long run because they offer something a monolithic package can’t offer: Security isolation. In that regard, the API-driven Grav and Barebones CMS products are definitely better starting points than the traditional monolithic all-in-one models that WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal represent. Static CMS site generators like Jekyll are also gaining in popularity but those only make sense for very tiny sites. Forums and commenting systems are kind of on the way out the door thanks to spammers, Internet commenters, GDPR and other upcoming privacy laws, and sites like Facebook, Twitter, Stack Overflow, Quora, Disqus, Livefyre, etc willing to divert the audience and filter the churn for the site owner. Content-as-a-Service is the new hotness and anyone entering the space is up against enterprise, turn-key solutions like TownNews and others already in that space.
Suffice it to say, even with the short list above from the thousands of CMS products out there, the CMS space is pretty full. While there’s always room to innovate, no one product or feature is going to likely ever stand out as king/champion/whatever in the innovation department that won’t be quickly cloned into other products. Instead, users should always find and then use the best tool for the job rather than trying to shoehorn something into a space where it doesn’t belong. In THAT regard, WordPress is the absolute worst of any CMS product and, IMO, no one should be using WP. Entire ecommerce systems (and lots of other things) have been bolted onto the side of WP like a cancer and the results are universally subpar. WP started out at a blog but has always only been barely competent at doing blogging but then couldn’t figure out what it wanted to do after that so it apparently tries to do everything, including its sad attempt at being a CMS, and fails spectacularly at all of them, hogging insane amounts of system resources just to load a single page in the process - oh, and security vulnerabilities too.
@Evelyn J Thanks for your insightful comment. I can’t agree with everything though:
> they offer something a monolithic package can’t offer: Security isolation.
I really disagree with that. Duct-taping together different products increases the security issue ! You will have more databases containing user info, sometimes one replicating data from another and exposing it to a new set of vulnerabilities.
More generally: a more complex system is harder to keep secure than a simpler one. Assembling different products from different vendors is invariably more complex than using a single product.
> Forums and commenting systems are kind of on the way out the door
I tend to agree for general purpose content but they’re still irreplaceable for specialized content, including product support. Also irreplaceable for sensitive content intranet/extranet usages.
> Content-as-a-Service is the new hotness
b2evolution does that, at an unbeatable price: free ;) But I agree, it depends on whether your resources include more tech people or more money.
> WordPress is the absolute worst of any CMS product and, IMO, no one should be using WP.
I’ve got nothing to add on that one ;)
Comment from: derek Visitor
I have been using WordPress from 3 years and now I recommend my client to b2evolution. It’s easy to use.
Comment from: Rob Visitor
This was a good read and it is nice to know a little more about the history of the software. I have to say however that as much as I like the idea of the program it is, without a doubt, the most difficult software I have ever tried to learn. The install was easy enough but getting it to do what I want has been a nightmare. I was originally sold on it when I read that I could integrate it into my own Website design, a feature I still can’t figure out and I’ve been playing around with it off and on for years. I admit that I have been spoiled by the ease of the eCommerce software I use (Cartweaver) where I can create any site design I wish then install the software, database, and a snippet and the entire functionality is there and working perfectly. Why this can’t be that easy is beyond me. The plan to make videos is fantastic but how long will that take and what exactly will they cover? I say do it and don’t worry about the updates. Another thing I would like to see improved upon is the manual. There is so much duplicate information that it takes forever to get through it. There are also a lot of grammatical errors that make it hard to get through too. And then all the links throughout the articles taking you to more and more pages; it just drives a person crazy. I would love to see a complete revision of the manual and try to take it down from over a thousand pages to closer to a couple hundred.