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What is LifeType Hosting?

LifeType is an open source blogging platform or content management system (CMS). Offering users a simple method for adding and editing content and media, LifeType is ideal for bloggers with any level of experience who need to author and release content on a regular basis.

About LifeType

LifeType is a PHP & MySQL driven CMS authoring tool, developed under an GNU General Public License, and free for anyone to use and install. The key strength of the platform is in the ability for site admins to easily manipulate page templates, or to import templates from the broader community. The tools used are all from other open source libraries, and are organized for keeping a light footprint with a strong authoring capability.

Summary of Features

Customization is essential for today's bloggers, and LifeType comes with numerous free blog templates. Further personalization is possible through the integration of plugins. Control comments and trackbacks with an anti-spam filter. You can even make your blog mobile-ready for both administrators and visitors. Those concerned with the tech side of LifeType will appreciate the promise of clean code and content, as well as URLs customized for search engine optimization (SEO) and language preference purposes. If none of the included templates suit your style, take advantage of the Smarty Template Engine to alter the code for the appearance of your blog.

Features List:

  • Muliple User Access - with Multiple Blogs per user
  • Mutiple Blogs per Installation
  • Integrated Media Management - content files can be uploaded and stored through the tool
  • “What You See is What You Get” (WYSIWYG) editor
  • Organized dashboard keeps you updated on new comments and statistics
  • Style management with "Smarty" Templates
  • Module / Plugin capability for new features
  • Built-in Anti-Spam with Beyisian Filtering
  • Captcha Validation and Trackback monitoring support
  • Mobile ready features and support
  • Content and Template Caching for fast system loads
  • Localization and International Page Support
  • URL Customization for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Performance
  • Clean Code with an easily accessible API
  • Use of the XMLRPC Interface for pinging multiple directories
  • Audio hosting & specialized templates for Podcasting

History of LifeType

The LifeType platform was created by an alliance of individual developers with the intention of creating a number of dynamic scripts to build web-pages. Originally, the platform was called "pLog" - in response to the "blog" term just cropping into existence.

However, Amazon.com had intellectual property rights to the term "pLog" so the name was changed to LifeType. Like many emerging CMS systems, LifeType was originally created in the early 2000's. In Feburary 2003, Oscar Renalias came up with the first iteration of the project. By the end of that year, the engine had multi-user and multi-blog template support, and functionality for plugins. Over the coming years, more features were slowly added, with heavy feature additions between 2005 and 2007. Stable releases continued in 2011, and 2013 - with continuing web support and growth.

Comparison with Similar Platforms

PHP is one of the most popular languages for blogging platforms, and the combination of PHP and MySQL (and usually Linux + Apache) - is one of the most common site architectures available. Which means that  LifeType has a lot of competition.

Many CMS platforms have some defining feature which separates it from the rest, but for the most part - many of these platforms are extremely similar in stucture. The fact that many of these sites all use the same "Smarty" Template paradigm, means that many CMS systems are extremely similar. The key strength for LifeType is the ability to manage multiple blog-rolls and sub-domains.

Beyond that, having strong anti-spam is useful, and on the community side of things, support for German and Chinese users is particularly strong, because of Project Members who run support sites for those regions.

The largest player in the PHP based CMS space is Wordpress or Drupal, but literally hundreds of other options exist, and almost all have at least 90% of the same features that LifeType does. When picking a CMS, choose one which has more active support, and a good set of themes so that less time will be spent on customization.

Installation & Hosting

Beginning with installation, LifeType strives to be intuitive. The wizard takes you through the process, which enables one blogger to set up one site, or multiple blogs with multiple users each, in just one installation. Any host or Web server that allows PHP scripting language should support the installation of LifeType. The recommendation is that you run recent versions of PHP4 and PHP5, and use the MySQL database management system. Although LifeType was developed for Linux and Unix servers, Windows users should not have any problem implementing the CMS.

What is the best type of hosting environment for LifeType?

Any host with support for PHP and MYSQL will do. Sites that have automatic caching tools might clash with the built-in caching in LifeType, but if a host has an install wizard for LifeType through cPanel, then it can be assumed that such a host will actually have stronger caching, and thus better performance.

LifeType Hosting Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is WYSIWYG?

    WYSIWYG, or What You See Is What You Get, is a term used to describe editing platforms that require no coding to make the page appear the way you want it. Instead, WYSIWYG editors typically provide a toolbar which allows you to modify text and images, similar to the way you would in a word processing program. When you post your site or blog using a WYSIWYG editor, the final product should look exactly as it did in the editor window.

  • How many templates are available?

    At the time of this writing, there were just under 100 templates available for download on the LifeType’s SourceForge site. Unfortunately, unlike programs like WordPress, there is no visual guide to available templates. You will need download each template to determine whether it is the look for you.

  • Does LifeType support multiple languages?

    Yes. LifeType currently supports translations for French, German, Spanish, Chinese, and more. Additionally, if your intended language is not supported, you can create your own translation file. Blogs can be translated into a new language via a single translation file.

  • Does LifeType support blogging communities?

    If you plan to provide a place for multiple bloggers to host their blogs, LifeType provides a simple 4-step registration process for new weblogs. In addition, it can display both new and popular blogs for your users, and it includes an index of users and blogs.

  • Can users have their own subdomain?

    Yes. You can provide each of your community users with their own subdomain though you should check with your host to make sure your plan supports this. In addition, a single LifeType installation can be used for several different domains as well.

  • What type of support is available?

    As with most open source software, support is provided through a community of users and online documentation. Several troubleshooting FAQs are available on the LifeType website, along with a documentation wiki. Additional support can be sought via the community forums or mailing list.

  • How is LifeType related to pLog?

    LifeType was originally called pLog; however, during the early release phase, the team discovered Amazon.com owned the “pLog” trademark. The team was asked to change the name of their project, and thus the first full release came out as LifeType in 2005.

  • Is LifeType still being actively maintained?

    At the time of this writing, the last LifeType release was just under two years old; however, historically, releases have been very slow, coming only once every year or two. The current gap should not be cause for alarm. More concerning, however, is the lack of functionality on their wiki page. If you are considering LifeType for your blog, check first to make sure you can access all the necessary documentation.

  • Does LifeType support media files?

    Yes. In addition to supporting many types of media files, LifeType provides support for podcasting, automatic thumbnail generation, and mass file uploads. It also provides a file browser and allows custom descriptions to be set for each file through the admin interface.

  • What type of spam protection is available?

    LifeType allows admins to set up comment moderation rules, meaning you can require comments to be approved prior to being published. You can also require users to enter a captcha prior to registering, posting, or leaving a comment, in order to verify they are humans and not automated bots.

  • It’s mobile-ready. Does that mean there’s an app?

    No. The mobile plugin simply allows your LifeType website to adjust its appearance and controls when viewed on smaller devices, such as cell phones.

  • Can I test LifeType before committing to it?

    At the time of this writing, the demo site was no longer operational. However, as development has been historically slow, it is possible that with the next release the demo site will again be made operational. Check their website if you are interested in testing out all the LifeType features.

  • What other alternatives are available?

    Blogging platforms have become increasingly popular, particularly with the rise of WordPress. Whether you’re looking to create a website and blog together, or just a blog, WordPress is the obvious choice, and by far the most popular blogging platform available today. Other solutions include Geeklog, TikiWiki, and pMachine. Or, if you prefer to have someone else host your blog, services like Blogger and Tumblr are another alternative you could consider.

  • What type of license is LifeType released under?

    LifeType is released under the GNU General Public License (GPL), meaning anyone can download the software and source code, use the software in any means they like, modify the source code in any way, and redistributed it. So long as they also do so under the terms of GPL.

  • How can I contribute to LifeType?

    LifeType is actively seeking community contributions. They are particularly interested in translators, artists, designers, and developers willing to help out. If you want to contribute, you can find their contact information on their website. In addition, they welcome anyone to report bugs or participate in the LifeType forums.

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