Free no-hassle blogging with Quick Blog

In my first ever blog post, I mentioned that my dream was to eventually self-host my blog on home IIS7 server, running latest Windows “Longhorn” builds with many cool features based on modules I write while working on IIS7 at my job on the IIS team.

My dream has been sitting idle in my basement for a few weeks now, running on a server I put together from spare parts lying around the house … At this point the only thing its waiting for is for the 60 day domain hold to expire, so I can transfer my domain name to a dynamic DNS host that will point to the server’s address.

In the past month that the blog has been up, I have thoroughly enjoyed GoDaddy’s free Quick Blog feature, which has allowed me to have a fully featured blog up and running minutes after I paid for the http://www.mvolo.com/ domain name. So, before I move at the end of this month, I wanted to share my experience with Quick Blog.

First, some basic facts

  1. Quick Blog is a hosted blogging app that is available for free from GoDaddy when purchasing a domain name*.
  2. It is not available for download for your own server. This is one of the main things I don’t like about it 🙂
  3. It was made by Bill Brown, David Levitt, and Erskine "Bo" Thompson, and released on December 16, 2005.
  4. It uses ASP.NET 1.1 (Bill, moving to ASP.NET 2.0 anytime soon?).

I gotta say, I loved this app. Here are some reasons why:

Everything about it is easy

It was really easy to set up. Once you log into your account at GoDaddy, you can add your first quick blog like 1 – 2 -3 by going to their Hosting and Email menu, selecting Quick Blogs, using your free quick blog credit, and connecting to the quick blog administration console from where you will do all of your editing.

Creating a GoDaddy QuickBlog

The first time, you will pick the style for the blog, and get to edit the top bar, the bottom bar, and pick components for your side bar. You can upload images to insert into the topbar at any location, which is cool. You can come back and change stuff later.

Tip: After creating the blog, just bookmark the hosted url for Quick Blogs – http://https//app.onlinequickblog.com/, and go to it directly to log in and manage your blog.

Log into your QuickBlog

Once you are logged in, it’s pretty easy to create new posts, manage comments, and play around with statistics.

Rich Post Editing

Ok, maybe this is standard for blogs, so maybe I am just easily impressed 🙂 Its nifty to be able to paste from Word, insert images, etc … I still remember the old days with HTML only editing.

Speaking of that, you can edit the HTML of your posts. I guess this is also pretty standard, but its nice if you ever need to do it. I don’t think you really need to do it often if ever, with the flexibility of rich edit controls these days.

Great statistics

This is where Quick Blog shines. Compared to Community Server, which does not provide a statistics package in the free community edition (this is #2 on my todo list when I deploy it on my home server), this little app gives you a plethora of stats you are going to get addicted to.

QuickBlog's rich statistics

Here are some things you get:

  1. Total hits broken down by browser (shows some of the hits coming from robots)
  2. Total hits broken down by Operating System
  3. Total hits broken down by client IP address Total hits broken down by referrer (who is sending most traffic your way?)
  4. Article views for each entry, with daily or hourly display
  5. Prints for each article
  6. Discussions statistics

Pinging

The app automatically pings a number of popular blog sites via the standard Weblogs.com XML-RPC pings, although I am not sure which sites it submits to yet …

It also lets you specify your own ping urls for each post.

Bill mentioned that a future release will contain pingbacks and trackbacks support.

But wait, you are not going to complain about anything?

Well, just a little 🙂

Perhaps the only major complaint I have is lack of a wider template that allows fitting more content horizontally.

Unfortunately, the template is only 500 pixels or so wide for post content, which is not enough to post real-size screenshots (like the ones I had to squeeze in my post about troubleshooting IIS7 server unavailable errors) and code samples. It also forces longer posts to become very long vertically and require a lot of scrolling.

I also don’t like how the template I chose automatically grays the text (although I know I can work around it, and it doesn’t happen in other templates).

Finally, if I could post some custom HTML content to the bottom of the template, or the sidebar, that would be nice as well.

In conclusion …

I liked using this a lot. If it wasn’t for the width issue, I would have considered keeping the blog on godaddy. Ok, to be completely honest I wouldn’t have, because of the appeal of having my own server and being able to rip things apart and plug in my own pieces – but if I didn’t have this urge, this blog engine is perfectly sufficient.

For the ease of use and free hosting, I would recommend Quick Blog as a very cool alternative to a larger blogging site that doesn’t give you your own domain name, or having your own server or hosting account.

Finally, I just saw that the Wikipedia page for Quick Blog is about to be deleted because it has no interesting information on it …

It is proposed that this article be deleted, because of the following concern:
             Nothing notable here
If you can address this concern by improving, copyediting, sourcing, renaming or merging the page, please edit this page and do so. You may remove this message if you improve the article, or if you otherwise object to deletion of the article for any reason.

The article may be deleted if this message remains in place for five days (This template was added: 7 November 2006).

Help keep it alive by adding some stuff about Quick Blog – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quick_Blog.

Also, Bill, if you are reading this, I wouldn’t mind helping you get this app running on ASP.NET 2.0, and eventually on IIS7 – and take advantage some of their new features to make Quick Blog even better 🙂

Anyway, I hope you find this little tribute fun … let me know if you are using Quick Blog, and what you thought of it!


* Just to be clear, this post is not meant as an advertisement for GoDaddy. I am just sharing my experience with the first blogging engine I ever used.

16 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    Posted on 11/8/2006 5:25 AM:

    Yeah, I think you hit all the highlights of what a good blog engine needs to provide to keep its users happy.

    I enjoy the high-level stats from Community Server; sounds like QuickBlog offers even more details for the obsessive. I really miss the statistics at Google’s blogger.com – there are no stats – but I’m ok with it for now because I know google searches generated most of my traffic.

    However, what blogger.com offers is insane control over the blog’s display layout. Huge library of CSS templates to choose from, and 100% customizable (I hate the similar 500 pixel width limitation of the blogger.com templates, so the first thing I do is tweak the CSS template to remove it; and then all my own layout rendering directives).

    Now, if blogger.com gave me some per-entry statistics and allow me to post-date publish blog entries (i.e. I set blog entries to publish in the future, and they become visible only after the entry’s publication date, not when I actually hit “publish”).

  2. Anonymous

    Posted on 11/8/2006 11:33 AM:

    I am definitely going to have to tweak CS a bit to my liking, with stats being in the top 3 on the list.

    The self-hosted joys of having complete control 🙂

  3. Anonymous

    Posted on 11/8/2006 7:10 PM:

    Just a quick note I wanted to add….Bill wasn’t the only developer to write Quick Blog….although he is the only remaining developer from the original team still on the project. This isn’t meant to take anything away from Bill…far from it! However there were three of us working insane hours to get Quick Blog finished over the holiday months….Just thought I’d mention that 🙂

  4. Anonymous

    Posted on 11/8/2006 7:30 PM:

    Dave, that is entirely my bad – I didnt realize that … let me update fix the post. Does the third person also have a blog I could link to?

  5. Anonymous

    Posted on 11/8/2006 11:37 PM:

    No problem 🙂 Not like we put up a list of people who worked on it. The third developer doesn’t have a blog that I have ever been aware of, but his name is Erskine “Bo” Thompson.

  6. Anonymous

    Posted on 11/10/2006 10:00 AM:

    Mike, thanks for the writeup. I think it is very even-handed. Your criticisms are spot-on and we are working on addressing them. (Though you can have custom HTML in the sidebar if you pay up.) I went ahead and fixed your stylesheet so that the gray text is now black (I still to this day have never understood how our now-gone template designers ever thought gray on white was a great color scheme for a text-oriented site. *sigh*)

    Also, I’ve removed the deletion notice from the Wiki page and explained things in the entry’s Talk page. Thanks for bringing that to my attention!

  7. Anonymous

    Posted on 11/24/2006 11:56 AM:

    I too have a GoDaddy Quickblog and do appreciate the simple design.
    Howevere, I miss the flexability of blogger.
    I would like to be able to do some custom HTML and it would be nice to have more options for the templates.
    I would score the Quickblog a 7 out of 10
    I will stay with it through the evolution because I have such respect for GoDaddy and the fact that they have kept the company American made and run from design to customer service.

  8. Anonymous

    If they could just squeeze in one more thing in Quick Blog, I would ask them to make the Security Code requirement on comments optional.

    My users hate them, and it is causing them to limit their input. Also limiting it is the restriction that they can only comment one time per minute. What is that all about?

    Please give me the flexibility to change these things.

    If these options are out there, and I am just not seeing them, please let me know.

    angry_ferret_jones at hotmail.com

  9. Anonymous

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