So here I am, trying to set up my new personal website at http://www.rkuo.com. (Can you believe that domain wasn’t taken? Neither can I.) I had originally wanted to use dasBlog, primarily because several of the bloggers I read (Omar and Scott, for example) run the dasBlog project.
I set up dasBlog and all was good, except I realized that I didn’t want the home page of my site to be a blog. Here’s where you run into issues…many software packages run well on their own, but try to build a cohesive site out of the parts and it’s almost impossible without writing your own code. dasBlog is excellent, but I needed a little bit more.
Now another brief aside. I could probably customize any of these packages to my liking with some effort. But in general, I find that doing so causes more pain in the long run, because maintaining those customizations along side all the other improvements happening to some of these packages is a huge pain in the butt.
So next, after much searching, I settled on Community Server. This does seem to be, on the surface, an excellent and highly integrated professional looking package with forum support, photo galleries, file uploads, blogging, and more.
I installed beta 2 of version 2.0. Unfortunately, this required me to purchase an additional SQL Server package from my hosting provider. Oh well, I’ll live if it gets the site working the way I want it.
I was pretty impressed, but I also ran into some huge issues while installing that haven’t been solved yet. This is a beta so I suppose I can’t complain too much, but the site is sort of in limbo while I pray for beta 3 of Community Server 2.0 to release and solve my problems.
Here are the issues I ran into.
1. The site kept ripping the www off all the url’s. So if you went to http://www.rkuo.com, you’d be shot to rkuo.com. Apparenetly this is an option buried in a config file and by default, it rips the www off the url. I changed it to put the www on all the url’s. I guess this could be a personal preference thing, but I somehow think having the www on there is natural.
2. I can’t login to the site with Internet Explorer. I can with Firefox. Wow, that’s a doozy. Big bug.
3. Anonymous comments to blogs can’t be enabled. Another big bug. I don’t want visitors to have to sign up for an account on the site just to comment on a posting.
4. Blog spam CAPTCHA filters aren’t included. Obviously, I could do without blog spam and this is the only reliable way to do it in a somewhat user friendly manner.
5. It wasn’t immediately obvious how to edit the tab bar at the top to add my own custom links. I eventually found out how (SiteUrls.config) but a UI for that would be nice.
6. I managed to hang Firefox a couple of times while tooling around the site. To be fair, I think this is a Firefox bug. =)
7. Seems a bit slow.
What’s good about Community Server
1. Tons of options and features.
2. Very professional default look and feel.
3. Ability to edit the front page inline via some sort of AJAX control. Neat.
4. Several fully integrated modules and a good level of abstraction that mostly allows me to customize what I want to if I look hard enough. Modifiying the tab bar, removing forums, galleries, and file uploads for now, moderation settings, etc. There’s a nice amount of detail in the whole package that
5. A nice web installation wizard for those of us who don’t own the machines we’re hosting our sites on.
I have to say overall I’m pretty pleased with the packaged potential that Community Server 2.0 provides, but there are some big bugs in beta 2 that need to be resolved before I can go full steam ahead on this site.