(The point of these tests and reviews is I’m looking for potential replacements for WordPress as my standard. go to, blog/CMS of choice.)
Confession: when I first logged into the admin panel after installation, I almost panicked. There are so many controls, layers of controls, that it almost seems overwhelming. This is a true CMS so there are menus and settings for 1. the entire installation, 2. each blog or forum or photo collection. You can have more than one blog and more than one user so each blog can have it’s own templates, plugins, settings etc. Each blog can have it’s own access rules of who can post, read, comment etc. It can be a bit daunting.
Moreover, the control menus in the admin are not laid out like those in WordPress – no sidebar menus here, the menus are in the header of the admin with options in rows. It actually works real well, its just after so many years of working with WordPress and a different menu logic it takes some getting used to.
The big thing is: Don’t Panic!
Take some time to poke around and explore. I did this, then set it aside, and then I came back the next day and poked some more and it all started to make sense. This is a very mature well built CMS script. The roots of B2evo are blogging, which is good, blogging is not an afterthought as it is on some scripts. This is a serious bit of blogging kit and a serious CMS. Make no mistake, there are a lot of controls but just take your time and address each one in a logical order and you will be fine.
The standard install comes with 1. a custom index page, 2. a public blog, 3. a blog only logged in members can see, 4. a photo gallery, 5. a forum. These are working demos that showcase what B2evo can do. These are all populated with posts and comments that tell you about features of the script. It also lets you practice doing things like approving comments in the moderation que.
- In addition to the features described above you have: polls, Private messaging, server analytics (very nice that), task tracker, widgets and plugins.
- I don’t want to make this review overly long so I’m going to focus on the blogging aspects.
- You can deploy a new blog, for yourself or another member, with one click.
- Each blog within the installation can have it’s own Title, metas, template, settings, widget arrangement, RSS feed, comments, access rules. In short it is a stand alone blog. (If you think about this you can save on hosting.)
- If you are on a root domain (ie. example.com) you can even set up the script to put each new blog on it’s own subdomain (ie. joeshangout.example.com, buffy.example.com, etc). This is very nice if a group of individual bloggers want to go in together on one install or if you want to provide a blog to a friend or two, or if you want to start several different blogs.
- Posting is with a WYSIWYG editor like Classic WordPress. Markup and Markdown plugins available.
- Categories and Tags.
- Basic Anti-spam plugin provided. Honeypot and Akismet plugins are available. Two things: 1. I wish they had better and more fine grained protection for Trackbacks. 2. I’d like to see more choices like AntiSpamBee as alternatives to Akismet, although I’m happy they have Akismet as an option.
- Documentation is serious, written by grownups and pretty up to date.
- Forums are full featured and attractive.
- Themes: I really didn’t play much with these. You do have a selection of several provided plus a repository from which you can download additional themes.
- Migration: there are import/export filters provided for most popular blogging platforms. I have not tried them. I hope they work because I may very well migrate at least one WordPress blog to B2evo.
B2evo vs. WordPress
From what I can see, this is a worthy replacement for WordPress. It feels rock solid. It has most of the features any serious blogger would need plus the multi-blog capability, forums etc. In many ways it is much more flexible than WordPress and almost as powerful.
The Admin panel is no worse than WordPress, it’s just different. But it does have layers: 1 site wide global settings, 2 setting specific to each blog, so there is some added complexity. That said, I would argue that the admin panel on B2evo is much better laid out than WordPress.
The eco-system of plugins and themes is smaller, because the supporting community is smaller. Despite this they have done a good job of providing choices. Also, much of what WordPress provides through plugins, B2evo has built into the core, so you don’t need as many plugins.
This is not for raw beginners. This is for people who are comfortable with Drupal, self hosted WordPress, Tiki wiki, etc.
You are not going to install this and be blogging in 15 minutes. It will take you just as long as it takes to set up and customize a WordPress installation, plus some extra time to learn a new UI.
This is perfect for individuals who: want to have separate long form blog, micro blog, photo blog, link blog etc all on the same installation.
This is perfect for several individual bloggers or a community of bloggers.
This is an impressive blog/CMS platform. I think it is a worthy replacement for WordPress if you are worried about all the current and forthcoming Gutenberg changes. I’d say install it and see if it will work for you.
Cautions: Indieweb and FTP
To upload new themes and plugins you need to know a little bit about how to upload files from your hard drive to a web server. C-Panel can handle this so you do not need a separate FTP client. But if you have never done this before it might be a barrier.[Added: I was wrong, there is a built in File Manager in B2evo which you can use to upload plugins and themes! W00t! See Comments below.]
- Indieweb: There is no Indieweb support. You are going to have to do this yourself with the help of third party services. (This is why I wanted more Trackback spam controls – if you can’t use Webmentions etc. you have to fallback to old school Trackbacks.) [Added 9 Jan 2019 – Per Francois Planque, B2evolution maintainer, webmentions are on the todo list. Great news.]
See my review of Serendipity.
Continued: A Closer look at B2evolution Features
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