Blogging is increasingly popular, both for individuals and businesses alike. That's because blogging software is one of the easiest ways to publicize information about your company. The best packages offer near-infinite customizability while still making it easy for new users to get up and running with a bare minimum of installation and configuration.
My own favorite among the long list of available packages is WordPress. To me, it offers just the right balance of configurability and ease of use. What's more, it seems to consistently be on the cusp of the latest Web technologies. Case in point: WordPress 2.6 arrived today, and it brings a host of new options that make posting and editing your blogs easier than ever -- even when you're offline.
What has always made WordPress so great, in my opinion, is how easy it is to use. Its attractive UI allows you to quickly update and manage your blog, and it has lots of polish. Where some packages might force you to enter posts into clumsy Web forms, WordPress offers a WYSIWYG editor and AJAX-powered controls. Plus, it's fully "skinnable," so your blog can look like whatever you want to the outside world. New features can easily be added through third-party plug-ins.
Web applications are especially vulnerable to networked attacks, so their developers have to stay on their toes. Fortunately, WordPress is updated frequently, and version 2.6 fixes more than 190 bugs. What really sets this new release apart, however, is its crop of new features.
WordPress 2.6 introduces a new edit-tracking system, which allows you to quickly review who made what changes to a post and when. It also lets you revert to older versions of a post, in the event of vandalism (or if you end up with your foot in your mouth).
It also provides a "Press This" bookmarklet that you can add to your browser. One click and it extracts the most relevant information from the page you're currently viewing and send it to your WordPress blog.
Perhaps the most exciting addition, however, is WordPress 2.6's support for Google Gears. By clicking the "Turbo" button in the upper right-hand corner of the WordPress administrative interface, you can now cache the most important files of the WordPress management console to your local hard drive, allowing you to keep blogging even when you've temporarily lost network connectivity.
WordPress is open source software, so it's free to download and install. To run it, you'll need a Web server configured with support for PHP (an open source Web applications language) and the MySQL database. Many low-cost Web hosting providers offer these capabilities as standard features.
Are you using blogs as a tool to market your business? If so, what's your favorite software -- or do you use a hosted service? Sound off in the PC World community forums.