All new blog software

A while ago I started to want to get more out of my blog. I had two or three people e-mail me saying “I’d have commented on this on your blog but it doesn’t have comments….”. I also wanted to have category specific RSS feeds, off-line posts and a number of other things. So I was facing the prospect of spending time implementing these features in my homebrew software that I could easily get elsewhere. Then I remembered that the strength of FLOSS is that you can use other people’s code to save you having to write stuff yourself. So I did. 🙂 I spent some time writing a list of requirements and it turns out that WordPress has them all, except a spell checker. And that’s in the next release.

Importing the content from my old blog was dead easy – I just generated a massive RSS file containing all my posts and imported it into WordPress. I’ve added a couple of plugins and spent a little time getting used to the software. But in a couple of hours I knew the basics. I spent a day or so rewriting the existing website style as a WordPress theme, but if I’d been satisfied with one of the many off-the-shelf themes, I could have had the thing live in an evening. Even so, about five days after first downloading WordPress to my test server, this site is now running it. There are still some rough edges on the non-WordPress parts of the site, but everything else should be fine.
Sadly, Apache’s redirect directives don’t cope with question marks (a known issue, it seems), so I can’t set up redirects from the old URLs to the new ones. I have set up a redirect on the RSS feed though, which should make life easier for everyone.

So, thanks to Neil Ferguson for giving me his original blog code, which I mutilated beyond all recognition. I’m still using it on the STORM blog, and will probably continue to do so.

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    6 Responses to All new blog software

    1. Philip Stubbs says:

      For spell checking, I use the Google toolbar in FireFox. It gives me a spell checker for all web forms.

    2. Paul Mellors says:

      If your using wordpress, make sure you enable the Akismet plugin, you’ll need to get a wordpress API but it only take a few moments to get one. It will save you from the spam muppets out there.

    3. Tony says:

      Wow, my first comments. See, it works. 🙂

      Thanks for the suggestions. I’ve installed the Bad Behaviour plugin and activated that. It seems to be working so far – reporting 12 blocked spams. I’m holding comments for moderation too, at least for now. I looked at Akismet, but don’t like having to sign up for things when I can get the same functionality without doing so. 🙂 For similar reasons, I don’t run Google Toolbar, though the tip is a useful one. I’ve lived without spell checking for over a year, a couple more months won’t hurt. 🙂 Apparently the feature is being added as part of the Google Summer of Code, ironically.

    4. sil says:

      You could redirect the old URLs to a CGI (i.e., the base URL without the querystring) so the CGI gets the querystring and does the redirect for you.

    5. Tony says:

      I did see a couple of web pages that suggested this, but I didn’t know how hard it would be to implement. Having poked around a bit more, I might try to get something working tonight. What might make it mildly impossible is that /blog/index.php is now a file in use by WordPress, so the redirect could end up redirecting hits on /blog/index.php to itself. (The actual URL shown by WP is mod_rewrite cleverness.) :/

    6. Tony says:

      For the record, the requirements I was looking for in a blog engine were (in no particular order):

      Blog engine
      1) Import posts from existing blog (did this via RSS import)
      2) Maintain site style
      3) Categorised posting
      3a) with RSS feed for each category
      4) Comments (with anti-spam)
      5) Media management
      6) Draft postings
      7) Calendar with days highlighted when there were posts
      8) Spell checker (in v2.1)
      9) Easy links and images
      10) Standards compliance
      11) RSS 2.0 feed

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