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Blosxom, That Fickle Flower

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So, for the past week I’ve been twiddling with my Blosxom configuration; not writing actual content, you understand, because content is really secondary: it’s all the CSS sheets and getting just the right functionality and layout and picking out aesthetically pleasing colors. Content? For the wimps and poseurs.

I think that a blog is like a toy, really, and it’s just one of those things that people do, like puttering in the kitchen or making model boats. How many times have you gone to a site and seen that it’s made a redesign, even though the old one was perfectly reasonable? One can imagine a blogger that was publishing a book through a dead-trees method:

Public: How is the book coming along?
Blogger: Oh, it’s great! I switched to a different font for the text and chapter headings, one that is much cleaner and easier to read. I did a Keyword-In-Context index instead of an ordinary index, that will make information much easier to find. What else? Oh, yes, I added a glossary and changed the color scheme of the cover.
Public: It’s almost done, then?
Blogger: Oh, no, I’m still midway through Chapter 2. But it’ll look really good when I finish, there is no doubt about that.

At any rate, after using Blosxom for a week, the following stand out:

More on default installations. The thing is, my Perl is a little rusty; partly, this is due to the nature of Perl, which has a syntax so counter to naturalness that it requires relearning if you don’t use it for a couple of months. Java I will probably remember in the old-folks’ home, but Perl will be forgotten twice by my next birthday.

I think the simple and austere nature of Blosxom is, in the end, the thing that prevents it from widespread acceptability. It is really a hacker’s toy, not something that is relatively easy to set up. To make a basic site, you have to change the main CGI file — okay, probably not too hard. But once you start making your weblog, you have to deal with tons of issues, and sooner or later you are going to end up staring at three lines of regular expressions in a plugin, trying to figure out how to make it work.

For example: in figuring out how to put images in stories, I ended up having to modify extensively the regexes in a plugin and change my .htaccess — really, it seems like an inordinate amount of work just to get images to work. This isn’t the only example, either — there have been two or three times this week when I’ve said to myself, “Why isn’t this easy? Why isn’t it obvious?”

But, when it’s running, it’s very sweet.


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