There’s been a lot of excitement and discussion recently about the emergence of a new blogging platform called Habari.

A brand new blogging platform being created from scratch with more developers than actual blogs.The prospect of my blog being completely broken by the nightly alpha build was an attractive one. A chance to leave the comfort of a stable Wordpress environment with all those themes and plugins. A change to live on the bleeding edge. I desperately tried to resist but the lure was too strong. In the end, I simply couldn’t help myself.

The first step was to install subversion (much better name than boring old CVS) on Bluehost following these excellent, idiot-proof instructions.

Then you check out the habari code. Or rather you don’t. You get this error.

svn: PROPFIND request failed on '/svn/trunk'
svn: No transaction named '26572b6d78b0be18? in filesystem 'habari'

No need to give up and commit Hari-Kari just yet. Consult the Habari self-help group to discover there is a known problem with the SVN repository on the Google server. When this problem is resolved, I finally get to download the code. Habari requires PHP5 and PDO (for database access). On Bluehost, the following lines must be added to ‘php.ini’ to activate the PDO drivers for mySQL.

extension_dir = /usr/lib/php/extensions/no-debug-non-zts-20050922

I am already hosted on a server running PHP5 but if you don’t have PHP5 on your server, open a ticket and Bluehost Technical Support will promptly move you.

Create a(nother) mySQL database and account, edit the database credentials in ‘config.php’, create an ‘.htaccess’ file to handle redirects and you’re away. A simple installation page creates the initial user account, the blog, tagline and the first entry.

Congratulations ! You are now the proud owner of a Habari blog.

Obviously, this is an embryonic product but the Administration page looks great and is fast and responsive. Although I’m not sure I believe the traffic statistics !

The article editor is a little minimalistic (especially contrasted with the recently released WordPress 2.1) but perfectly usable.

A special word of praise about the Habari import facility.

This connected directly to my Wordpress database and was blindingly fast (less than 30 seconds) to import my WordPress blog. In fact, it was so fast, I had to check that over 500 articles and 400 comments were indeed correctly imported although I noted that tags weren’t preserved.

It is not clear how you might import a hosted Wordpress blog where you don’t have access to the database but I am sure other data formats will be added in due course.

Of course, there isn’t the rich variety of themes and plugins available for Habari (yet) and, while I will not be jumping ship to Habari from WordPress today, I will certainly continue to follow developments with interest.

Auto-discovery detected the availability RSD and Atom (but not RSS) feeds.

If you’re interested, here is my Habari sandpit.