Loud ramblings of a Software Artisan

Wednesday 22 June 2011

Sitting on the curb

On Commercial Dr, Vancouver during Italian day. Vancouver, BC - June 5 2011

Taken on Kodak Ektar 100 w/ Mamiya C-220 TLR 105mm f3.5

flickr - 500px

Saturday 18 June 2011

On upgrading blogging software

After some time on Advogato which was social before the time in 2001, I decided in 2004 to host my blog. First on my own server on my DSL line, then later, before moving across the country, on a paid hosting. While I progressively relinquished the burden of administering the server itself, I still have kept full control of the blog software and the associated data. This is not something that just everyone can do as it has a set of implication from security to sysadmin.

The software was at first Nitlog written by software hacker extraordinaire Dave Coombs when at Niti. It served its purpose and was minimalistic by design. No database but flat files to edit. Works great of you access to the file system to post. Later, I moved Dotclear, a French blogging platform, GPL licensed, written in PHP. This was around the time when Movable Type licensing changed and the early day of Wordpress. The main motivation for moving to Dotclear was the built-in admin interface and a few other tidbits. I could have fixed Nitlog but lazyness prevailed as it seemed to be a rather large change given its design.

Dotclear 2.0 has been out for quite a while now and I have been thinking about upgrading. It isn't until very recently that I actually gave it a try. While the migration process seems to be seamless, importing directly from the database after a fresh installation, there are a few issue I consider important that needed addressing. First it broke the URLs. Doctlear 2 changed the way the permalink URL are made and the choice isn't as flexible as in Wordpress. While I can understand the benefit of the change, and while it is also addressed using a plugin – plugin that would redirect old to new – it is a bit disappointing. But that's not all. The URL for the RSS feeds have also changed. I'm sure I could implement something to redirect, but also, with the previous change in the URL structure, the fee will have new IDs for the post, causing wreck and havoc on aggregators where all the articles in the feed will be considered as new. And that's not acceptable in my point of view.

When I moved from Nitlog the URL were so different that I managed to keep the old one working with a clever check in the index and never migrated the articles to the new software. The RSS just didn't include these so everything was good.

Now here are the options:

  • keep the current one. Since it is not broken no reason to fix it.
  • move to Dotclear 2 and figure out how to fix the issues above.
  • move to Wordpress as there seem to be a plugin for it, but I'm not sure how reliable it is. And I'm not sure if it won't introduce the same issues as Dotclear 2 despite the more flexible URL settings that Wordpress allow.
  • move to something else like Movable Type. I once considered Movable Type for a different project as it had become GPL. Took Wordpress instead.

In any case, only the first solution involve not rewriting a theme.