The Web We Lost

I was reading Chris Shiflett's blog and he mentioned a blog post about the web the way it used to be before Facebook and Twitter. I almost tweeted it. Then I thought, nah, a good old fashion blog post that linked to it was way better.

The Web We Lost - Anil Dash

The tech industry and its press have treated the rise of billion-scale social networks and ubiquitous smartphone apps as an unadulterated win for regular people, a triumph of usability and empowerment. They seldom talk about what we've lost along the way in this transition, and I find that younger folks may not even know how the web used to be.

It is a good read for all us "old timers". He ironically uses Facebook for comments. One really good one that I can't actually link to afaik because... Facebook said:

No sarcasm here.. I legitimately miss the "web-rings" of old. With niche interests, it was a great way to find like minded sites, and I found many of my still bookmarked favorites with those old crappy left and right arrows :)

Yeah, you know, Web Rings weren't that bad. I had sites on a couple of those things. I think they are still around. And I think you could still pull them off and not worry about Google juice and all that. 302 redirects don't pass that crap. Maybe I should write up some quick javascript that indexs the Planet PHP blogs and adds a Planet PHP web ring to your page. Hmmmm.

Wordcraft 0.8 available

I am pleased to announce the release of Wordcraft 0.8.  I have managed to release about once a month since November.  I also have actually gotten some feedback and tickets posted.  Thanks to those that have tried it out.

I have decided to go back to YUI's Editor.  I tried TinyMCE in the last release.  But, using it full time I found it messed with my HTML too much for my liking.  When I would switch to raw HTML mode and add something like a <code> tag, it would be lost when saving the data back into the WYSIWYG editor.

I also converted the admin HTML to HTML 4.01 Transitional.  I never use XHTML anymore these days.  So, I was writing invalid XHTML inadvertantly.

I worked on the session handling some more in this release.  Users should stay logged in to the admin better now.

I put comment blocks in all the files and documented every function.  This should help anyone wanting to dig in and help out.

I fixed several bugs reported by users (or maybe just testers, not sure).  Thanks for that and keep the feedback coming.

Wordcraft 0.6 available

I am pleased to announce the release of Wordcraft 0.6.  I have been using it for a month or so now and I am learning some things.

I had been having trouble logging in lately from multiple places.  So, instead of trying to work on the built in session handling I had written, I took my own advice (use stuff that exists) and just switched to PHP sessions.  All the cookie stuff is worked out and I can get a lot done with just a little work.  PHP sessions make me a little nervous.  If you have lots of applications installed on the same site that use them, you can get some odd behavior.  But, why reinvent the wheel right?

I have found myself wanting to save a post while working on it.  To do that before, I would have to uncheck the Published box.  To solve this, I changed the behavior of the Save button.  When pressed it now saves the post, but with the published flag set to 0.  This lets you save a post while working on it quickly.  I then added a Publish button to the post form.  The Publish button will save the post with the published flag set to 1.  If a post is already published, you just get an Update button that will save whatever is set in the form.

From a code perspective, I have made all the code use the same array for user data.  I had a separate one for the core, one for the template and one for the admin before.  That was getting complicated.  So, they all just use the same one now.

The last thing I did was add meta refresh tags to the admin success pages.  I like having a success page to tell me something worked.  But, I really want it to move along after it is done.  It does that now.  It is set to 3 seconds.  I may knock that down a bit.  That 3 seconds starts after the page is fully loaded.  So, it can be more like 5 or 6 if stuff has to load.

Wordcraft 0.5 available

Well, I blogged about Wordcraft the other day.  I have just been running live on the software for 4 days now.  Well, that post had no URI associated with it.  It took me two days to figure this out.  Oops.  Welcome to eating my own dog food.  So, running this live with actual users (and a host of bot spam attempts) I am learning a lot and making a lot of commits.  So, I may very well roll once or twice a week for the first few weeks.

So, with that, I have packaged 0.5.  There are 15 changes in this package.  Some features, but mostly bug fixes.  So, if you could use a simple blog, give it a try and help me debug it.  If you do, please use the Google Code issue tracker.  Maybe I can figure out how to have those things emailed to me.

Wordcraft, a simple PHP blogging application

So, a while back, not sure when, I was listening to the P3 Podcast and Paul mentioned his dislike for Wordpress.  He said he wished there was a simple blogging application.  I am probably misquoting him horribly.  It was an idea that I had been tinkering with.  So, I started on Wordcraft in my spare time.  Like super spare time.  That time between the kids going to bed and me falling  asleep.  So, it took a while to get it to a usable state.

Up until now, I have used for my blogging.  It works quite well.  You can get started quite quickly and it does what most people need.  My wife uses Blogger for our family blog.  It is, IMO, not as nice as in some ways.  But, it does allow you to edit your styles (for free) and such which is nice.

So, why would I want to reinvent the wheel?  I am a control freak and rarely run other people's code.  I know, it is a character flaw.  I am working on it.  So, what did I come up with?

I had some goals when I started on this.

  1. Keep it simple.
  2. Focus on what I am good at doing.

Keeping it simple

I use MySQL.  I didn't try to make it work with every possible database.  In fact, it only uses the mysqli PHP extenstion.  The few objects (CAPTCHA) are all PHP 5 objects.  I don't plan to worry about PHP 4.  The templates don't use a template language.  They use plain old PHP.  The are scoped to protect template authors from global scope.  There are only 6 files required to make a new template.  There are just 589 lines of code in the forward facing scripts.  The admin has 2,446.

What am I good at doing?

I write PHP/MySQL code that has to work fast for a living.  It is what I get paid to do.  I am not a designer.  I am not a spam catching wizard.  I don't write cool javascript widgets.  So, I focused on the PHP/MySQL parts of the code.  For templates, I used designs that are released under the Creative Commons license.  I use Akismet and the CAPTCHA libraries from Phorum for spam catching.  I used the YUI Rich Editor for the admin where I needed a WYSIWYG widget.  I even link to the YUI sources that are hosted by Yahoo.  No sense taking on that bandwidth or storage.

So, what does it do you ask?  Well, here are some of the features:

  • WYSIWYG editing via YUI.
  • Comments with optional CAPTCHA and/or Akismet.
  • Custom pages can be created.
  • Tagging of posts
  • Custom publish dates
  • Automatic Pingback support
  • Friendly URL support with mod_rewrite
  • 5 Templates in first release.  Easy to build more.
  • Email notifications to authors

There are some things missing of course.  Internationalization of both the admin and templates is a big one.  There is no current search engine for blog posts.  There is no "blog roll" type of feature.  There is no date based archive.  And I am sure there is more missing.  And I am sure there are bugs.

But, if you would like to try out yet another PHP application, I welcome you to give it a try.  The code is hosted at Google Code.  It is a BSD licensed application.