Obviously there are blogging options outside of the ASP.NET world, such as WordPress (PHP) and Blogger (hosted), these are excellent implementations but they have requirements that may be show-stoppers for ASP.NET shops.
WordPress for example is written in PHP and uses MySQL, but even if hosting those technologies is not an issue, it leaves .NET developers needing to brush up on PHP in order to make any non trivial customizations.
Code changes aside, Blogger (hosted) suffers from the fact that the tightest integration you can get with your site, is with a sub-domain (eg. keyoti.blogger.com), which is not as good in SEO terms as using https://keyoti.com/blog. It has to do with how Google apply ‘domain authority’, please see the MOZ link to understand more.
Another option is to use a CMS system which includes a blog feature. CMS is beyond the scope of this article, and your decision on which CMS system to use would be balanced more holistically since it is going to do much more than blogging. For us, CMS is not an option right now.
ASP.NET 2.0 support notes
I’ve included notes on ASP.NET 2 support (since I know that not everyone can be on the latest and greatest, for a variety of reasons), but it is important to mention that there may be security concerns when running older versions of open source software. From time to time open source projects (and proprietary too) have exploits publically exposed, and if you do not patch them then you will be open to attack. An attacker can scan or search for installed software, and try to automatically exploit vulnerabilities, so please make your own determination as to the safety of older versions.
I’ll now review 4 open source ASP.NET blogging platforms.
Current version: 3.1.1 for .NET 4.5
Last update: 5 months ago
Backing database: By default it uses XML files, but also supports ‘SQL Server, MySQL, VistaDB and many more’.
ASP.NET 2.0 support: The last version to support .NET 2.0 was v1.6. This post on their site was the latest post about security patches, and the ‘related posts’ includes other security posts. From these it should be possible to make v1.6 safe. We have made no security assessment; it is entirely in your hands.
Setup: Very simple, literally download the ZIP, copy the content to IIS, setup the folder as an application and run it in my browser. From there its UI takes over and sets itself up, and it can update itself to the latest version from a button click.
Features: social bookmarks, OpenSearch support, XFN tags, AJAX, FOAF, SIOC, APML, Gravatars, comments, tag cloud, Google sitemap and other ‘Web 2.0’ features.
Spam protection: Invisible reCAPTCHA
Responsive design: Current versions have responsive design themes, version 1.6 may be harder to obtain prepackaged responsive themes for.
Impression: Great, it appears to be well liked for the most part in the community with good ecosystem support (active forum, themes etc). One off-putting thing was that when I googled blogengine, Google reported “This site may be hacked”, now that applied to their main site, dotnetblogengine.net, not the Codeplex site where you can also obtain the download if you are concerned. Google’s ‘hacked’ warning could be completely wrong, I don’t know.
We would be using BlogEngine.NET here, but the gotcha for us was their use of URL rewriting which didn’t play well with our setup. It may be possible to workaround that but we lacked the desire to pursue it.
Downloads: Unknown, but 45 Forks suggest it is popular
Current version: v3.0
Last update: 7 months ago (on Github)
Backing database: MS SQL
ASP.NET 2.0 support: No, it was built on MVC 3 originally.
Setup: More involved than BlogEngine.NET, it requires manual configuration of MS SQL and connection strings etc. Instructions are (a bit buried) here http://sblogproject.net/2013/02/getting-started-visual-studio – if you have DB experience you’ll be fine. There’s also a (dated) article with excellent depth on Code Project. At time of writing there are no questions on StackOverflow related to sBlog.NET, which is a surprise to me.
Responsive design: Yes.
Features: many of the standard social features, tags, code syntax highlighter, comments, multi-author support, themes and extensible. SEO friendly URLs.
Spam protection: Appears to use something similar to WordPress’s growmap anti-spam plugin, essentially the same as the invisible reCAPTCHA that BlogEngine.NET uses.
Impression: It self-describes as “A minimalistic blog engine using the ASP.NET MVC4 framework”. It has a nice example blog linked from their homepage, so you can quickly see it in use. It has several themes to choose from. If it has a discussion community, I am afraid I couldn’t find it, although the home page has an invitation to ‘contact us’ at the bottom. There were 5 of 11 issues open on GitHub (2 of which are enhancements, 2 were user support and 1 bug). It appears to be a nice project, it certainly has been in development for 2.5 years and is still actively developed, so I don’t think there is much danger of abandonment, even if the surrounding community seems slim. If the architecture is appealing, and you prefer something lean, then sBlog.NET is a good offering.
Current version: v2.5
Last update: 5 years ago
Backing database: MS SQL 2000
ASP.NET 2.0 support: Yes, built on .NET 2.0
Setup: The install page touts the Microsoft Web Platform Installer, but the link is dead. There are also detailed manual installation instructions, which include DB administration.
Responsive design: No, it hasn’t been updated since 2010.
Features: Tags, comments, rss, themes, SEO friendly URLs.
Spam protection: Yes, invisible CAPTCHA.
Impression: I wanted to like Subtext because my initial discovery of it was from an encouraging post on StackOverflow, however its lack of updates (which could be accounted for to some degree by the unfortunate technical problems the author describes on the homepage) and quiet community (for the past few years) cast a pall on it. Admittedly I have not installed it, because not having responsive design out of the box is a show stopper for us – however it may still be a good product, certainly it impressed developers a few years ago, and if you’re stuck on ASP.NET 2, and perhaps willing to get your hands in the code – it could be a fine solution for you.
Downloads: Unknown, has 96 forks and 7 contributors (very encouraging).
Current version: 3.0.0
Backing database: JSON files, or MS SQL or MongoDB
Last update: 5 months ago
ASP.NET 2.0 support: Not a chance (MVC 5)!
Setup: Couldn’t find instructions, and the latest discussion on GitHub was asking for instructions on running it in Visual Studio, so you might be on your own a bit.
Responsive design: Yes.
Features: Auto backup to Dropbox, Open ID, themes, code syntax highlighting, leading edge tech. Supports DISQUS.
Spam protection: Uncertain.
Impression: NBlog and sBlog.NET have a few things in common, both started around the same time (about 3 or 4 years ago), both use MVC, and both describe themselves as minimalist/lightweight. Unfortunately it also doesn’t appear to be any community support forum, just the ‘Issues’ tab in GitHub, which is sparse. There are 19 results on StackOverflow, most answered. If architecture is important to you, then I would expect your choice to be between sBlog.NET and NBlog, they certainly have some differences, their importance is of course specific to you. NBlog has the awkward problem of being similarly named to a commercial product by neotheme, making it harder to google.
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