We couldn’t help but notice the recent trend among blogging software products. Many of them are starting to look and act like web content management tools. Is it the seemingly inevitable merger with the Web CMS market, or the progression into the seemingly inevitable micro CMS arena?Blogging tools are taking all kinds, shapes and forms nowadays. From the micro-blogging Twitter to gigantic commercial news blogging, as in the case with CNN’s latest venture into user-generated content: I-Report. Hey, yours truly CMSWire.com is also based on a blogging platform. Blogging tools came a long way since 1997 when Jorn Barger coined the term "weblog." From simple, diary-like tools used for personal babbling; blogging tools evolved into powerful applications used even for commercial purposes. There are a number of commercial blogging platforms out there, such as Movable Type, WordPress and the likes. Many of them are becoming so robust, they are starting to resemble web content management systems.

From Scribbling to Publishing

From simplistic clients like Google’s Blogger and Six Apart’s (used to be Danga’s) LiveJournal to blogging monsters, such as Movable Type and WordPress; blogging vendors are offering more and more Web CMS-type features.

Site and Functional Templates

From a limited set of predefined templates back in the blogosphere days, most blogging software vendors now offer an array of fully-customizable templates. And products like Movable Type are starting to offer template sets that are beginning to look like the sort of functional, vertical template packages more sophisticated offerings -- such as SharePoint -- have had for some time.

Publishing Workflow

Blogging workflow might sound like an oxymoron to many. Nevertheless, many systems now differentiate between user roles, and offer workflow with several levels of approval and functions assigned to particular groups and rights and responsibilities.

Content Entity Versioning

WordPress is the first blogging vendor to offer versioning in its 2.6 release that went out earlier this summer. Word has it that Movable Type will also put content versioning on the table, in some form, in the near future.

Asset Management

Most of blogging vendors provide users with at least a minimal set of Digital Asset Management (DAM) capabilities including the ability upload and resize images and other multimedia files.

Pricing models

While some vendors charge a monthly fee, the others’ pricing models are based on the number of licenses needed. This might sound familiar to some of you.

Web Analytics

While not all, some vendors offer reporting features to track your blogs most popular online web metrics like traffic and page views. Finally, there is now hardly a blog tool without a full-fledged WYSIWYG editor, search function and moderated discussion boards.

Mind Your Blogging Britches

The question, however, remains: where does one draw the line between a blog and a Web CMS? Do you pretend to be a mediocre CMS, or do you evolve in the blogosphere where some might argue you belong? It’s not impossible to turn a blogging tool into a proper CMS, but is this really the point? We would argue that there's a need for a middle ground between content and enterprise focused Web CMS products and rapid fire, publishing focused blogging tools, and that the blog tool vendors should shoot for this. Online conversational media are evolving and the tools are serving the needs of different crowds -- from personal bloggers to pro-bloggers to enterprise bloggers to new media start-ups. Our thought is that blogging tools do need to step up a notch and serve the micro and semi-professional publishers better. But they need to be wary of blurring the lines between them selves and the "big boys" of the Web CMS game too far. They, thankfully, do not have the level of sophistication needed to compete in that realm. Should they reach the point that they do, their relative advantages of usability, simplicity and agility are going to be lost. Adriaan Bloem, contributing analyst for CMS Watch, offers his commentary on the topic as well. We'd love to hear what you think.