Andrey Markeev on SharePoint

Public blog on SharePoint

October 24, 2012

For nearly 5 years now, I've been struggling with different blog engines (something always is not quite right, you know), and I always catch myself on thought: omg, this would be so easy to fix if it was SharePoint...

That is not a surprise, you see, I'm neither Blogspot MVP nor WordPress MVP, I'm SharePoint MVP after all :)

But have you seen blogs running on SharePoint? To be honest, this "cool" OOTB blog site template of theirs is nothing close to what you need for a public blog. And also, it's just ugly, if you will.

And if you glance over SharePoint top blogs, it seems almost noone chooses SharePoint as the engine. For example, list of my favorite SharePoint people:

... etc. (sorry if somebody is missing, actually I read you all guys :))

Probably it's ok, you know, you pick the right tool for a particular action. But...

But last weekend, lazily digging Office365 and at the same time thinking about where to put my English blog at last, almost unconsciously I started to shape SharePoint into a blog. Without any blog site template.

By the way, are you aware of what you're looking at right now? :) You're looking at an aspx page which resides in SharePoint library. And if you glance to the right, under the "Blog archive" title, there is a DataFormWebPart with grouping... Based on idea by Christian Stahl.

Only ONE day with SPD, and one more day for moving the old content from WordPress. Can you believe this? ONE day for creating a "blog engine" on SharePoint. Purely no-code solution. Works in Office365.

And the most important part, this blog satisfies me all over. I'm just like a happy puppy here, really :) Ok, not that much, yet anyway smiling from ear to ear for two days already :)

It was really quite easy, once you know what you really want to get.

Two nested masterpages, one document library, one separate aspx page for showing all the posts. Three DFWPs, built in 10 minutes each, mostly using SPD design view. That's all guys!

This is the library:

I use Title, Preview and PublishDate fields when displaying the posts on default.aspx using DataFormWebPart. DataFormWebPart was created in 10 minutes: it just shows a library contents, plus some basic styling.

Now about master pages... One masterpage is primary and it is used for default.aspx page, and the second is nested and is used for articles, basically it adds comment form and social buttons below the article, and also displays the title. Yes, article title is stored in Title property of the document, not in the document itself. No data duplication!

Since I'm using only DataFormWebParts for displaying content from lists and libraries on the public part of the site, actually I don't need most of SharePoint features there. So I just removed them from masterpage :) (and probably I can polish off even more things). As a result, I've got a responsive and flexible cross-browser design, mobile-enabled. For example, this is how it shows on my Android tablet:

The "backend" of the site still uses standard SharePoint masterpage, so no problems there.

Comments are external, I use Disqus for them. And I recommend to use Disqus even if you run your blog on WordPress, Blogger or something else, because Disqus rocks and that is not an understatement! It's really powerfull and handy - both for administrators and users, for example it can pull twitter discussions related to your post into the comment area, and so forth.

And yes, now I write posts in SharePoint Designer! :)

Actually this visual HTML editor is quite a good one. It won't yield any needless extra markup, it checks the spelling, and so on. SPD ribbon hosts a very relevant set of actions for formatting:

All is here, this is exactly what you need to write a good blog post.

Btw, SharePoint Designer supports inserting images from clipboard (wow!). The only thing missing here is obviously syntax highlighter for programming languages, but this part is tricky everywhere, and nothing changes in SPD.

Summary

I've got a great experience, storm of emotions and a good blog. I wish you the same! Don't hesitate to drop comments if you have any questions ;)

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Posts of this series

  1. Public blog on SharePoint (this post)
  2. Blog on SharePoint: Series
  3. Blog on SharePoint: RSS feed

About me

I'm SharePoint MVP, published author, frequent speaker, opensource projects creator and online expert.

I'm one of the top 10 experts on SharePoint StackExchange:

profile for omlin at SharePoint, Q&A for SharePoint enthusiasts

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