Still Torn On Blog Migration

blog comments edit

I’m still torn on whether I should convert from pMachine to dasBlog as my blog software.

There’s some odd stuff with caching going on behind the scenes in dasBlog because it’s a filesystem-based package. pMachine doesn’t do that. Stuff like creating a second copy of all of the metadata attached to all of the comments on the entire site. If it’s stored with the comment, and it’s only used as a cache, why is it a physical file to begin with? Does it ever get rebuilt? Having a separate cache that is, in effect, a disparate data source from the actual data is asking for integrity problems.

The templates really bug me. The more I think about it, the more they bug me. I appreciate that the idea is to allow for folks that “just know HTML” to code up a template and run with it. As such, they use sort of a string-macro-substitution scheme where a huge set of undocumented “magic words” can be used to insert a bunch of stuff in an undocumented format into your page using undocumented CSS classes that you don’t get to choose. It’s an ASP.NET app - what happens if I want to add, say, a textbox to it? Or a treeview? Or any other ASP.NET server control that I could dream up? Right now, I’ve got to do some fancy tap-dancing-and-jazz-hands to put the server control into a user control and… uh, no. Seriously.

If the templates were made for a user who “just knows HTML” to use, how come the setup and upgrade procedures take an ASP.NET guru to figure out?

I shouldn’t have to modify the administrative interface to get it to do things I want. Nor should I have to manually log in to the server, download a config file, edit it, then re-upload it due to lack of an administrative interface. Ever. If you add the feature and it requires config, you add the admin interface.

If everyone using dasBlog is using some external application (i.e., BlogJet) to post entries, it occurs to me that this means not one, but two things: First, that BlogJet is cool and convenient to use. Second, that there is a dire shortcoming in the built-in interface to create new entries that needs to be addressed. If it’s so inconvenient to use, what is it that makes it inconvenient? Address that.

While we’re on the topic of the built-in new entry interface, the usage of text editing components must be questioned. I know the dasBlog guys weren’t responsible for FreeTextBox or the way it munges up HTML. That’s fine. But here’s the deal: clean HTML isn’t important to some folks, but it really is to others, particularly when trying to apply complex CSS. Seriously. As far as I’m concerned anymore, it’s XHTML compliant or bust. (No, my current blog does not adhere to XHTML standards; that’s part of why I want to update. To get a nice, clean template that does.) Even if that means I enter a new entry in a plain old textbox manually (which is what I currently do anyway).

I might want the ability to upload images into one folder and other content, like downloadable software, into another folder. I, further, might even want a file browser so I can see (without having to FTP) what I’ve got up there and delete or rename files as I see fit. Hook me up, guys. It’s not rocket science.

If it doesn’t just work without tweaking, don’t put it in. If it’s not going to be documented so people can take advantage of it, don’t put it in. If you have to know how to create a nuclear accelerator out of duct tape and toothpicks in order to use it, don’t put it in. (This sort of goes back to the trouble with the administrative interface - complete configuration of the site can’t really be achieved through the admin interface right now, so you have to know where/how certain things work - undocumented - in order to get things configured just so.

Where was the common sense when writing some of this stuff. If you have a class called DayEntry and that class has a static method like OccursBefore(DayEntry entry, DateTime dt), then it occurs to me that, since you have to have a DayEntry instance anyway, the method should be an instance method, not a static one. Am I wrong? (There’s a lot of that kind of stuff in there.)

I know what’s going to happen here. I’m going to convert over to dasBlog and get pissed off that there are weird things in there. I’m going to rewrite the thing and have to run a fully custom implementation just so I can get things done. I guess I should just accept it now. Unless you dasBlog folks want to go on a major cleaning spree? Stop adding new features and make the existing product solid. Not just solid, but solid.