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Dissatisfied with blog systems

July 23, 2006

Personnally, I am not very satisfied with current common blog systems. They are based on a huge collection of PHP scripts and MySQL but web providers couldn’t certify that service will have all the ressources needed. I am looking for something simpler, even if this solution is not (will not become) a major blog system …

Thanks to Google Cache, I was able to retrieve a nice idea Alexandre Dulaunoy had on his previous blog software (unfortunately, this idea was removed, along many others, when he changed for a new version of oddmuse). Here is the quote:

My (we)blog needs to be refreshed but I’m still looking for a simple free software to do the job. I tested various without finding a simple software backend. My requirements :

  • A vty (or at least an XML-RPC interface) interface to update the blog remotely
  • The software backend must be able to produce static pages without too much code or configuration
  • The ability to avoid spam in an efficient way (ok, the requirement moved to static pages, it would permit to avoid the spam problem 😉
  • The ability to customize the full look-and-feel of the blog via CSS. This seems pretty simple in theory but in practise, that’s another story.

At the end of the evaluation, I came with two possible software : Emacs Muse or Oddmuse wiki engine. I’m already using Oddmuse for my messy working place. I would be very happy to get any information about possible alternative.

Some comments:

  • With a VTY interface, one can directly connect from anywhere, via telnet or SSH. It is a good idea: the software is then simple, it can be accessed from anywhere (provided you have an access to your server or you have an always-on computer that can upload new posts on the real server).
  • I don’t see exactly what Alexandre wants with his XML-RPC interface since it is only a kind of remote procedure call. If I try to imagine what he meant, the software would then be different and you will need two of them: a client (where you write your new entry, answer to comments, etc.) and a server (that will receive a message containing your entry, parse it and publish it). Of course, you can have the same software package that provides both services: a VTY interface and a XML-RPC interface
  • If you are using VIm, here is another solution to Emacs Muse: vimblog 😉

My solution should then be this one … You simply write your entries with your favorite text editor and save it in an ad hoc directory. Every x minute/hour/day, a cron job launch the blog software. This simple software (C/Perl/Ruby/whatever) then parses the ad hoc directory. It finds small texts creation/modification date + time and rename files if needed (YYYYMMDDHHMMSS). There is a very small chance that two posts are posted at the very same second. Then it parses the files there for their content, build basic HTML files, apply a style (skeleton for HTML and CSS for style) and publish the pages to a FTP server. Plus an optional XML-RPC interface if you want.

For comments, a simple solution should be an e-mail address dedicated to the blog software. Comments are just texts sent to a special e-mail address. When the blog software runs, it also checks “its” mailbox, retrieve comments. Then, depending on the configuration, it could just append the comment to its initial post or it can ask the moderator for approval.

So, it’s not a common blog tool, i.e. it’s not web-based at all (although it could be possible to write a web interface if one whishes). It is especially well suited:

  • if you don’t care too much about your blog visual aspect (this point can be changed by adding new CSS);
  • if you have a website without PHP/MySQL and/or your website provider is too slow to process exhaustive, beautiful and huge blog engines
  • if you have access to console on a GNU/Linux computer but you don’t want to host your blog there (too little time for proper real world, secured servers configuration, not much bandwidth quota each months).

Someone to begin to code this with me?

From → Projects

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