PolarBlog - An Embedded Weblog Solution

I've finally managed to get this blog page XHTML compliant!  After much trial and tribulation, I've managed to track down all of the issues and get it to validate properly.  That said, it may fail the validation on various pages because some of the older entries may not be 100% compliant.  It's unlikely that I'm going to go back and track down all of the errors as they aren't critical, but then again being as anal as I am, I just might!  In the process of working on the XHTML compliance, I was able to implement one of the changes I had been wanting to do.  That being, the updated display look so entries now standoff in a sort of "box in a box" fashion.  I believe it gives it a cleaner look and differentiates each entries.  You might not see it that way, but then again it isn't your blog, now is it?  ;)  And now it's time to move to the next level.  

I have spent the past several weeks looking at different blogging applications, and there are some very nice ones out there.  But the issue I have with then are that they all seem to be stand-alone solutions, and I don't want that.  I want a blog that integrates into my site, not one that requires me to integrate into its framework.  Thus why I started using Personal Weblog (PWL).  It was very easy to setup and is designed to fit in with an existing site's look and feel.  But the down side and my big issue with it is that it's no longer in active development.  V1.0 was released on July 15, 2002 and there have not been any releases since then.  I've corresponded with Mark, the developer a couple of times and he seems to be a very pleasant and reasonable individual.  I've sent him contributions (most notably the calendar function that you see at the right) and other suggestions which have not been integrated and  released.  I understand that people change their priorities and often move on, thus leaving projects frozen in time.  Often times the project lives on and continues to meet the needs of the developer and possibly others.  While still others may consider it incomplete and lacking needed features.  In this case, my position on PWL is the later.

Several weeks ago I asked Mark to take control of the PWL record on Freshmeat as he appeared to be deadending the project.  His website was down at the time (It later returned.) and I didn't know if the e-mail would even reach him.  A very polite reply was received that he would be releasing an update soon, likely including my calendar update.  As of this writing, still nothing has appeared and the last entry on his blog is dated October 16, 2002.  So at this point, I appreciate Mark's efforts and have happily used his code as the basis for this weblog for more than a year, but as of right now I'm going to be moving on.

I've made the decision to venture out on my own.  My blog now looks and (partially) functions as I want it too with my changes.  But there are also other features I would like to add.  This is likely a fairly longer term project as my outlook is that I will be rewriting the complete code base to operate in a more modular fashion.  Namely being XHTML compliant, using CSS for the page layout and developing Object-Oriented classes with functions that return data instead of printing directly.

So in short, what you are looking at is a prototype of a pre V1.0 release of what I am now calling "PolarBlog - An Embedded Weblog Solution".  Eventually this will be released to the public, but at this time the heavily modified PWL is certainly not ready for mass consumption.  But if you have basic competence in PHP, CSS and HTML and want to give it a try, you are more than welcome to it.  Or, if this project is simply of some interest to you when it is more mass acceptable, please free to contact me:  kevinp ~AT~ polarlava.com.

And as a final note I would like to extend my gratitude and thanks to Mark for his time and effort in developing Personal Weblog.  It has served me well and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

[Updated: 07:33am EDT, 12 Apr 2004]

Well here we are, about a month-and-a-half out from my original post on transitioning from Personal Weblog to PolarBlog.  And I'm happy to report, that as you read this you are doing so via what I call PolarBlog V0.5!  I've put quite a bit of work into this already and can see that it's going to take quite a bit more!  I'm really questioning the wisdom of starting essentially from scratch, but the fact that this exist should indicate that I intend to continue. So where am I with this?  I'd guess about half way, thus why I'm calling it V0.5 at this point.  Running down how this works relative to Personal Weblog:

Things I've kept from Personal Weblog:
  • The entries DB table, with some modifications.
  • The topics DB table.
Implemented features of PolarBlog:
  • Run with PHP Register Globals OFF
  • Run with PHP Safe Mode ON
  • XHTML 1.0 Compliance
  • CSS3 Compliance
  • CSS control of display layout that replaces PWL's web based HTML interface.
  • Improved entry text searching.
  • Standard entry calendar display.  This is a feature I implemented for PWL that was never officially released.
  • Standard entry display/entry index toggle link.  This was an optional feature in PWL.
  • Recent entries summary display.
  • Permalink on each entry to allow easy linking to your entries.
  • Entry display enable/disable.  This allows you to start an entry and save it without it being displayed except for you when you are logged in.
  • Entry create and update timestamp resetting.
  • Entry create and update timestamp shifting up to 24 hours in either direction.
  • Entry double spaces replaced with two    entities.  I'm tired of entering them after each period!
  • Other really cool editing friendly entity replacements via Smartypants-PHP implementation of Smartypants.
Unimplemented features of PolarBlog (what's to come):
  • RSS Syndication.  A major hole, the next to be filled. Added 4/16/04
  • Entry spell checking via the Speller Pages frontend to GNU Aspell.
  • Automatic keyword linking and abbreviation tags using phpGiggle.
  • Automatic double line breaks (<br /><br />) so when editing text you can simply leave a blank line and it will act as a paragraph break. Added 4/27/04
  • Entry date separator.  Not a feature I use, but I know others were interested in it. Added 4/27/04
  • Topic Editing control.  Currently relying on PWL for this as it's rare that I add a topic. Added 4/28/04
  • User Editing control.  New encrypted/secure DB storage of user/admin data.  Also expandable for multiple users.
  • Inline timestamp updating.  (So I don't have to create that formatted separator when updating an entry!)
  • A commenting system.
  • Pingback
  • Trackback
These are the major things still to do, pretty much in the order they will be implemented.  Those last two are probably a long ways off, but are on the agenda.  There's a number of issues related to the layout and display system that I need to rethink/work out also.  But it's funtional for my purposes for now.

[Updated: 12:36pm EDT, 29 Apr 2004]

Okay, this entry has grown rather beastly with numerous updates over the past two months.  Suffice to say, if you want to know what's going on with PolarBlog development, you'd best head over to the PolarBlog topic.

When I'm through with this entry I will be posting a notice on the PWL mailing list, so if you are reading this from that post, welcome!  If you're still interested, follow that last link.
February 28, 2004 @ 06:13 pm | Category:
comments powered by Disqus