Blogging With Joomla: EasyBlog from StackIdeas
There are a lot of blogging extensions on the Joomla Extensions Directory, but one stands head-and-shoulders above the others when it comes to user feedback: EasyBlog.
Here's our review of the extension. Let's see if it really is a worthwhile option for people blogging in Joomla.
Checking the EasyBlog listing on the JED, it has nearly a perfect 5 out of 5 star rating from over 160 users. The extensions itself is about 18 months old now. The normal version costs $59 from http://stackideas.com.
Installation is straightforward and consists of a single zipped file. Once you've successfully uploaded EasyBlog, you'll see a screen like the one below.
That's an awful lot of settings to wade through , so the EasyBlog developers have added important short-cuts to the right-hand side of the page. I'm going to use those to kick-start the blog:
First, I'll click on the link "Set your blog title and description". The link takes me to a page where I can do just that.
There are a lot more options on the same page, including URLs or "Permalinks" (as we go through, you'll notice this is just one of the many features of EasyBlog have been heavily influenced by WordPress).
The second link in the EasyBlog short-cuts is titled "Setup permissions for your bloggers" and that doesn't disappoint. There is full integration with Joomla's new ACL and you have a lot of control over what each user group can and cannot do on the blog:
The third link in the EasyBlog short-cuts is "Create more categories": Just as with Joomla 1.7 itself, categories can be as numerous and as heirarchical as you wish.
One oddity is that even though I created sub-categories successfully, they're not shown in the category list. There's no indenting to mark the subcategories:
Finally, I clicked the forth link in the EasyBlog short-cuts which was called "Update profile settings". To be honest, the link underneath which said "Proceed to dashboard" was more accurate. It took me to the front of the site and a blogging dasbboard. The first thing you see is a "Quick Post" screen, again taken directly from WordPress, but it's a great idea and one that I've long said should be in Joomla itself:
The full blogging area is available on the front-end and has substantially more features:
There's a image editor provided which is much better than the Joomla default:
The admin area of EasyBlog provides you with automatic resizing options:
Once you've written a blog post you can see the full EasyBlog display with avatars, social bookmarks, author profiles, rating, trackbacks, comments and more:
EasyBlog has a default comment as we saw but also provide Facebook, Intense Debate and Disqus, plus integration with three Joomla comment extensions.
With comments comes spam and if you use EasyBlog's own comments system, they have you covered with spam-blocking integrations.
I've mentioned WordPress a couple of times already, but the default social bookmarking in EasyBlog actually beats the socks off WordPress. There is tight Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin integration for the site as a whole, but also for individual user profiles.
The main profile pages for each author remind me of K2:
Each user gets to set up their own social profiles:
Users can also group together into team blogs. For example, different departments in a company could link together to blog:
If you are wanting to import your articles from the Joomla core or another extension, EasyBlog has you covered. SmartBLog, LyftenBloggie and My Blog are supported by default.
That's a tour of the default EasyBlog features but StackIdeas.com has around 30 extra modules and plug-ins to take things further.
There were a few small bugs we found during testing. The StackIdeas team always fixed them quickly.
There a few oddities in the English phrases used in the component.
EasyBlog uses it's own icons and layouts rather than those from Joomla, which means it does take a little while to adjust.
Those are minor quibbles, however. EasyBlog is a very solid blogging option for Joomla. It takes many of the best ideas from WordPress and actually improves on them in some areas.