Tonight I'm gonna blog like it's 1993
May 30, 2007 9:26 PM   Subscribe

What blog/CMS software would you recommend that doesn't rely on MySQL or another database backend?

So, I finally broke down and bought a vanity domain for myself, and I want to set up a small site there, just to provide occasional updates to my friends and family, and maybe host some other content that I want to share. It's nothing big, I don't expect much/any traffic, and I'm not looking to make money off of it.

I decided to go with Nearly Free Speech for hosting, because they offer a nice metered plan that only charges me for the bandwidth that I actually use, which is cool. But they (quite reasonably) charge extra for SQL processes. So I'd like to find some sort of simple CMS that doesn't require a database to run. PHP4 and CGI (all major languages incl. Perl, Python, Ruby) are both OK.

The only things that have turned up so far are FlatPress, which is a sort of WordPress clone that uses flat files, and Simple PHP Blog. Are there other packages that I'm missing? Has anyone ever used either one? How bad are they to set up? FlatPress seems a little light on least compared to regular WordPress, which has a lot of 'Howto'-style documentation because everyone and their cousin seems to use it.

This question last August was about alternatives to popular blog packages that don't require complex coding, but I'm less concerned with that than I am in just avoiding SQL completely.

I don't care about anything very fancy, like the ability to use plugins or customize the style very much. I just want a way of throwing content up onto the site, without having to maintain, organize, and edit a lot of static HTML files. I don't really even care about comments, although they're a plus.

Maybe what I'm looking for really isn't "blog" software. Really, I just want some sort of management system, that avoids the static-HTML morass that I dread from my early-90s experiments with personal web sites. (I used to manage things by keeping a local mirror of the site, adding my content by hand, and then using an FTP client to sync the server's copy. It worked OK, but I want to be able to update from the road, without being tied to the machine with the local mirror.)

Anyway, I'm open to any suggestions, experiences, or anecdotes that folks would like to give.
posted by Kadin2048 to Computers & Internet (18 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Tiddlywiki might be worth a look.
posted by pompomtom at 9:44 PM on May 30, 2007

Best answer: Try Blosxom. It's a very small simple Perl script, and all your blog entries are simply text files. No db required at all.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 9:47 PM on May 30, 2007

Or you could try CityDesk, which is a CMS that stores all its stuff on your PC, and just uploads the rendered HTML to your server. The starter version, which works with sites up to 50 pages, is free. Windows-only though.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 9:53 PM on May 30, 2007

Movable Type supports Berkley DB, which is a flat file database system.
posted by alan at 10:03 PM on May 30, 2007

Best answer: From Nearly Free Speech's FAQ:

How much does a MySQL process cost?

Your first MySQL process has a base charge of $0.01 per day. If you create additional MySQL processes, which is almost never necessary


This means that for most people, use of MySQL will cost $0.01 per day, or about $3.65 per year.

It is my personal belief that difference in effort and time you would spend finding a satisfactory CMS that uses a flat-file backend vs. finding a good mysql one will be worth far more than $3.65.

If you spend even 1 more hour monkeying around with different flatfile CMS systems to see what you like, or 1 hour digging up or coding a new module becuase your text based CMS is too limited --- well, you'd have to value your time at less than $3.65 per hour for this to be the right decision.

Pay the penny a day for mysql. It'll be worth it because you can choose any of dozens of great CMS software with lots of community support and a far greater likelihood of modules already existing that'll do nifty stuff you'd like to do.
posted by twiggy at 10:08 PM on May 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You can set up an account with (now owned by google) and when you make a post it simply takes your blog post, using your template, and uploads it to the site with FTP of SFTP. It's what I use on Nearly Free Speech.
posted by lockle at 10:35 PM on May 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

They have SQLite support, which is basically an SQL database in a file (no external daemons needed). MovableType supports SQLite; Wordpress doesn't.

Honestly though, after managing a flat file installation myself (blojsom) I'd go the database route.
posted by sbutler at 10:40 PM on May 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

posted by Webbster at 11:07 PM on May 30, 2007

I remember using Greymatter back in the days when blogs were e/n sites. I liked it, but I'm not sure whether it's still being actively developed.
posted by robcorr at 11:38 PM on May 30, 2007

You could also go with hosted Wordpress at (free). You then use their system to map your personal domain to your Wordpress page hosted at Or, simply forward to your Wordpress blog.

Most people find themselves very frustrated with blogging solutions that don't include a database like MySQL.

I think (not the Wordpress you host yourself) may be just your ticket.
posted by Gerard Sorme at 12:12 AM on May 31, 2007

SQLite is light years ahead of using a flat file or even a berkley database.
posted by wierdo at 12:19 AM on May 31, 2007

DokuWiki uses flat file storage and has a decent blogging module, among other things.
posted by Hackworth at 12:40 AM on May 31, 2007

I second twiggy. No amount of effort would be worth the additional single-digit MySQL cost a year, especially since you get much more value out of a real blog system.
posted by uncle harold at 12:49 AM on May 31, 2007

Third on twiggy's comment.

Also, regarding Movable Type and Berkeley DB: Using Berkeley is strongly discommended. Support for it is an old holdover from when MySQL, et al. were not as common on hosts, and there's just not much excuse for using it anymore. It's relatively prone to corruption, and the first thing you'll be told if you run into problems with it is to upgrade to MySQL/SQLite.

It should also be noted that support for Berkeley will be dropped in the next version, so if you plan on keeping up with developments, Berkeley is not a selling point.
posted by Su at 1:40 AM on May 31, 2007

"It is my personal belief that difference in effort and time you would spend finding a satisfactory CMS that uses a flat-file backend..."

Blosxom. Really. The datastore is a directory tree of text files, and it just works. I just saved you four bucks and an encounter with someone who thinks a database is required where a filesystem will do.
posted by majick at 6:23 AM on May 31, 2007

Plone. Zope based CMS. Simple installer for all platforms. Simple to use. Accessible. Standards-compliant.
posted by jivadravya at 8:58 AM on May 31, 2007

That Plone suggestion was so spectacularly inappropriate that half a cup of tea just ex-nose-ulated.

Bloxsom. Never used it but using flat files is the one thing I know, plus it has a great reputation.
posted by genghis at 11:28 AM on May 31, 2007

You could also go with hosted Wordpress at (free). You then use their system to map your personal domain to your Wordpress page hosted at Or, simply forward to your Wordpress blog.

You can do the same at Typepad.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 11:29 AM on May 31, 2007

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