Chyrp Micro-Blogging and Alternatives

Chyrp is an open source microblogging platform. The software was designed to be as simple and easy to use as possible. This, of course, means, there aren't very many features.

The project was first started by a single developer Alex Suraci, in 2004. At that time, it was called Mynimal CMS. The design was a reaction to WordPress, which was gaining in popularity at the time (and has since come to dominate self-hosted blogging). Suraci saw WordPress as too complicated, too "bloated," and too slow. The software that eventually became Chyrp was designed from the beginning to be easy to read and maintain.

In 2010, Suraci announced that the project would not continue. However, another developer took over and continued working on Chyrp. Development was relatively active after that, especially in 2012 when an anonymous donor enabled the lead developer to work on the system full-time. By 2015, developments seems to have tapered off. The official website became unavailable in September of 2015, and (as of the end of 2016) has not come back up. A few minor contributions have been made to the project's official GitHub repo, but no serious development has taken place in some time.

Chyrp Features and Advantages

From a developer perspective, Chyrp is clean, well-organized, and easy to extend. The codebase is small enough that a single developer can actually understand the whole thing. It is also very well documented, in the code. If you want to know how something works, and you understand PHP, you can easily find it and figure it out. Extending Chyrp is also very easy. New content types ("Feathers") are created by simply extending a single class. Modules have a predictable design and logic.

Chyrp is also easy to host. The requirements are fairly minimal and can be met on most shared hosting plans. All you need is PHP 5.2+ and either MySQL 4.1+ or SQLite 3+. Installation is pretty easy, especially if you just use SQLite — but even with MySQL, it isn't hard at all.

For users of Chyrp, the main advantage is simplicity. There are a handful of themes to choose from, but not so many as to become overwhelming. (And creating a new theme isn't nearly as complicated as creating a new theme in WordPress.) There is a focus on blogging and content-sharing, and not a lot else. Unlike WordPress or other CMSs, there simply aren't that many features. You can log in and post items, post from your email… and that's really about it. Core modules include basic usability features like comments, captcha, tagging, and liking. There are, though, no ecommerce solutions built on Chyrp, no discussion forums, no project management systems. It's just microblogging.

The "Feathers" feature encourages bloggers and designers to display different types of content differently. You might post a single photo, a link, an inspirational quote, a video, a status update, or a full blog post.

Should I Use Chyrp?

Unless development becomes a lot more active, probably not — especially if you're not a developer or a pretty strong techie. For the casual, non-technical user, running a site on software that isn't actively being improved and supported, can cause all sorts of problems. There isn't a community of of users and developers to answer questions or provide advice when the inevitable problems come up and there's no one to fix security problems that might arise.

Developers and techie tinkerers might find Chyrp a worthwhile platform, though. The code, as it exists, is solid, well organized, and well documented. If you're into PHP (or trying to learn it), Chyrp is a decent project to spend your time on.

Alternatives to Chyrp

If you really like Chyrp, or are already using it, you may be looking for other software apps that are similar to it. Finding the right Chyrp alternative depends on what aspects of Chyrp's feature set you are most interested in. Here are a few options:

Chyrp Lite

The most obvious replacement for Chyrp is Chyrp Lite. Chyrp Lite is a fork of Chyrp, created after Chyrp development seemed to taper off in 2015. It is largely the work of a single user/developer, Daniel Pimley.

Chyrp Lite is an "aggressive" renovation of the Chyrp code. The aspect of Chyrp that Pimley was most interested in preserving was its lean efficiency. Chyrp Lite is intended to be even more lean and efficient — hence the name.

From a user standpoint, the projects are largely similar. The HTML output of a Chyrp Lite site is responsive, ARIA-labelled, accessible, and semantic.

WordPress and Post Formats

If the most important feature of Chyrp is the Feathers system, which allows different types of content to be displayed in a different ways easily, then WordPress might be a good choice for you. It continues to have all the same "problems" first identified by Chyrp's creator —- it is very large, complicated system that does a lot of things. No single developer can know the entire codebase inside and out.

Even with all that, though, it is very easy to install and use. The vast majority of web host companies provide WordPress hosting plans.

WordPress introduced the Post Format feature in Version 3.1. Post Formats are just a piece of meta-data associated with a post, identifying it as a certain type of content: aside, gallery, link, image, quote, status, video, audio, and chat.

Themes are then free to use (or not use) that designation in order to display the post differently. There are many free WordPress themes that support Post Formats.

Tumblr

Chyrp was conceived as a microblog. Before microblogs were called microblogs they were called tumbleblogs or tumblelogs. If you don't care about self-hosting your tumbleblog, a good alternative to Chyrp is Tumblr, the most popular microblogging site.

Tumblr has all the features that users like about Chyrp — it's simple to set up, different types of content display differently, you can post content from anywhere. Giving up the control of your own hosting plan also provides you with a connection to the larger Tumblr community, making it easier to share your content.

Conclusion

Chyrp was a great idea, but using software from a defunct project is hardly ever a good idea. Try one of these Chyrp alternatives and remember — your content matters more than which (micro)blogging engine you use.


Further Reading and Resources

We have more guides, tutorials, and infogragphics related to web development:

How to Choose the Right CMS

Not sure what CMS you want to use? Check out our article, How to Choose the Right CMS.