If you are running a blog on a self-hosted platform, chances are you’re using either WordPress or perhaps Drupal. There is no denying the fact that both of these CMSs have excellent capabilities. They are ideal for many different genres of website. However, at times, when all you need is a small personal weblog, running Drupal is a bit overkill. In other instances, when the need of the hour is a no-nonsense and nimble CMS, WordPress might seem a bit bloated to some users.
If this is the case for you, Habari might be the CMS meant for your blog.
Habari is a blogging CMS with a modular, object-oriented core. With that said, Habari, unlike WordPress, is not everyone’s blogging platform. If you are planning to create a video blog or a photo blog, Habari may not impress you. It caters to the traditional blogger – and it does its job well.
Habari supports multiple database back-ends including MySQL, SQLite and PostgreSQL. There is support for Atom feeds, and the plugin repository contains importers for WordPress blogs.
However, the USP of Habari, as we shall soon see, does not lie in its blogging prowess (seriously, of the features mentioned in the above paragraph, which one is new?). Habari’s main forte is its minimal and swift operation – the CMS comes with an admin interface which is reduced to the bare minimum.
Before we decide the pros and cons of Habari as a CMS, we shall evaluate it under different categories.
Interface, Usage and Performance
The first thing you’d notice once you login to Habari’s back end is the ‘clean’ look and feel. The interface is neat, with the navigation menu sitting nicely in the upper left corner. Just like WordPress, Habari presents you with a Dashboard once you log in. By default, it shows details such as number of Posts, Comments, logged in Users, etc.
You can use keyboard shortcuts to navigate in the admin panel – ‘Q’ for Dashboard, ‘M’ for managing existing articles, ‘C’ for comments’, ‘N’ for New Post, ‘A’ for tags, ‘T’ for themes, ‘P’ for plugins, and so on. Of course, if you are editing an article, such shortcuts become void for the duration you are using the Editor.
Speaking of editing an article, the New Entry Editor is plain simple. There are no excessive elements – in fact, it resembles WP’s Editor (after you maximize the latter to full screen).
Along similar lines, the Options page too is rather minimal and, to a great extent, empty. It lets you enter basic info about your blog, time and date, language, and other similar settings.
In the My Profile section, you can edit your details – name to be displayed, password, Gravatar address (you can also use an image hosted elsewhere by placing its link).
Extensions, Plugins and Themes
Habari comes with several themes and plugins to its merit. However, most of the addons are developed in-house and/or by the community. So if you are looking for Premium Theme Stores resembling those of WordPress, you’re in for disappointment.
Among plugins, you also have the likes of Akismet and Defensio to secure your website, importers for platforms such as WordPress and Serendipity to import your previous data, as well as many others.
Community and Support
Habari has its own user group and IRC channel. The community is quite dedicated and the CMS has a loyal user base. However, the size of the community is rather small as compared to most other CMSs. This can be attributed to the fact that the CMS is still in its infancy (the latest version being 0.8). By the way, the frequency of updates is awesome.
The Good and Bad
Before we pass judgment, let’s sum up the advantages and disadvantages Habari.
- Extremely nimble and easy to use
- No-nonsense, minimal interface
- Dedicated community
- Good documentation and support options
- Support for multiple databases
- Ideal for regular blogging
- Relatively younger
- Small user base
- Not meant for photo/video blogs
- Few third-party developers
So, is Habari worth it?
If you are looking for a CMS with a clean interface for your blog, you should surely consider Habari. Unlike WP, Habari does not try to do many things – its target audience includes regular bloggers, and it serves them well. Yes, the CMS can indeed make use of few Premium themes and plugins, but all in all, it has all the ingredients to power an average-sized blog.
Sufyan bin Uzayr writes for various magazine and blogs, and is the author of "Sufism: A Brief History". He blogs about technology, Linux and open source, mobile, web design and development, typography, and Content Management Systems at Code Carbon. You can learn more about him, follow him on Twitter or friend him on Facebook and Google+.