Flatpress is a blogging platform which is somewhat different to the more popular and better known, WordPress, because it doesn’t require a database to run it. Written in PHP, Flatpress stores data in text files making it the only real choice for people who want to set up a blog, but who don’t have access to a database, or don’t feel comfortable using one.
Installing Flatpress is simple, but unfortunately it isn’t available in either cPanel or Plesk, so users do have to download and install it manually. This is easier than it sounds, just unzip it – you may need to to do this twice because the download file is saved in tar.b2z format – then upload it to your server using ftp. When you’ve done that follow the simple installation guide – really, it is very easy – and it will be installed in just a few seconds.
Once installed, you’ll be presented with the admin area which is neat and uncluttered and fairly intuitive, especially if you’ve ever used WordPress. There is an options section which lets you change the name and description of your blog, change the date and time format, number of posts per page, and also gives you the option to add text to the footer section.
Flatpress comes bundled with a choice of two nice looking default themes, and a range of plugins – including Akismet – but you can further customise your blog by installing new themes and plugins, once again this has to be done manually. I found it easy to install a new plugin, but got a bit lost when I tried to add a new theme because I couldn’t find the themes folder. Unlike WordPress, themes are installed to the fp-interface folder rather the one which contains content.
Flatpress In Use
The new post box is quite basic, and uses BBCode – if you’ve spent much time on forums and message boards you’ll be familiar with this – and is functional. However, I couldn’t find any way to upload an image or video. As far as I can tell these have to be uploaded to your server, then added to a post using BBCode.
Like WordPress, Flatpress uses drag-and-drop widgets which can be arranged as you choose, but they can’t be edited in any way, and there isn’t a text widget so you can only use the available ones and have no way of adding your own custom widgets. I guess you could get around this by adding code to the theme by hand – as early users of WordPress had to do – but this would be tricky for beginners.
Flatpress doesn’t have a tagging system, but users can create categories. Once again, this is a manual process. It’s simple to do – you just type the name of the category into a text box along with a unique number; to create sub-categories simply indent the text.
To sum up: Flatpress is a nice looking platform, I especially liked the way themes are applied to the dashboard as well as the blog. It’s extremely fast, and the actual process of writing a post is very easy. The platform has plenty of community support, and there is an accompanying message board offering advice as well as new themes and plugins.
On the downside, the lack of automation means it would be quite difficult for beginners to use. Also, BBCode isn’t as widely known as HTML which steepens the learning curve.
If you are new to blogging, I wouldn’t recommend Flatpress; you’d find it far easier to upgrade your hosting package and install WordPress using the automated installer, Fantastico. However, if you are looking for a simple but fast platform, and enjoy tinkering about in the ‘back-end’ it might be worth a look.