Category: "b2evolution"

There's more than the code...

Oh well... I think it's been too long since I last read some great wisdom like the one on Joel on Software.

I read this really insightful peace today about all the important things beyond just the actual software code.

Here's a funny quote:

Human emotions can be really, really superficial. In particular people ridiculously overvalue aesthetics and beauty when evaluating products. It's one of the reasons iPods, and, for that matter, Keanu Reeves, are so successful.

...but the whole article is definitely a must read!

Of course, this so much applies to b2evolution as well... :-/

b2evolution, Movable Type and WordPress

Just realized I barely haven't posted anything to this blog for the whole month and this is my last chance to pop up on the calendar page for May! :P

So what has happened for the last few weeks?

Well, for the most part we polished and we released the much anticipated b2evolution 0.9, got a lot of feedback and made it even better (0.9.0.5 so far).

Incidently, at the same time, as you must have heard by now, Movable Type changed their licensing scheme, disappointed a lot of their users, created a tidal wave of blogtool evaluating, comparing and switching all over the blogosphere. With slashdoting and everything. |-|

Funny actually, because the new license isn't really that much different from the previous one. Looks like people just opened their eyes and suddenly realized what it really was about! :>

At least, with a license like b2evolution's GNU GPL, users can rest in peace. (It's so Free actually, commercial companies like SCO would like to get if off the surface of the planet! >:-[ But since it's being used by tens of thousands of free open source projects, I really don't see this happening anytime soon... :>> )

Well, anyway, I think one of the most interesting "replace-your-MT" comparisons was provided by Owen in his - now famous - Blog Software Breakdown [Page gone].

Owen eventually decided to go with WordPress for himself and explains his choice. Interesting. Of course I wish he'd gone with b2evo, but I guess he didn't need the extra functionality. It's never too late though! ;D

Anyway, I hope Owen is going to maintain his chart in the future because it's a valuable resource... as long as it's not outdated. ;)

Well, apart from that... the world is still screwed as usual in its grotesque pattern of self destruction... but that's a topic for another day!

A little adventure into web dev

My real life has been holding me off from blogging and all that stuff for the last month. However, as I was sick and staying at home for the last two days, as there was nothing on TV (I really oughta get that satellite dish!), I pulled out my Dreamweaver...

First, I conscientiously fixed all open bugs on b2evolution and released a maintaince package. Then I went on playing with the homepage at http://b2evolution.net/ .

Check out that totally fluid 3 column layout. Try resizing the window. Try changing the font size. What do you think? ;)

By the way, tweaking with CSS layouts is a very efficient way to kill time! :>>

Anyway, the most interesting part of that new homepage is in the right column. There is a list of recently updated b2evolution blogs. I had added a feature in version 0.8.6 where b2evo sends a ping to its homesite everytime it is used to post a blog somewhere on the internet (unless you disabled that pinging in the conf). These pings actually get stored and here they come out of the darkness.

Now the homepage is different everytime I visit it and I can see b2evolution in action even when I don't feel like blogging myself! :D

Okay, enough self pride...

Web application caching

Blogs, as most current web applications, need to address the server-side caching issue in order to reduce webserver load.

It looks like most people are quite happy with caching static versions of their pages for some defined amount of time. This method has often been called something like "half-baked/half-fried" in reference to the long running baked (static) versus fried (dynamic) discussion.

I'd actually call it "baked on demand"... but regardless of what name we use, I would not be satisfied with this.

I have actually done some experiments caching my blog homepages which is enough to significantly reduce load, but this really makes them too static for me. I do want to log some stuff in realtime, I do want new user comments to show up instantly, and most of all: I do want the page to be customized for each user: display new posts since last visit, display his personal choice of categories, etc... Caching a whole page for every possible combination seems plain stupid. (And it is! :>> )

Actually, the only smart caching mechanism one can be satisfied with in high-end web-applications is block-caching. As a matter of fact, a web page can actually almost always be considered as an assembly of different blocks. Some are static, some are dynamically updated several times a day, some are related to the user himself and some are so dynamic they change everytime the page is displayed, no matter what! By caching each of these blocks individually when it makes sense and rebuilding only those necessary at a given time, you can then reconstruct your whole page dynamically significantly faster than if you had to reconstruct all blocks from scratch every time.

And there you have it: performance and functionality. Yeah, Okay, I know... it's also much more complex to implement than any other caching mechanism... ;D

Introducing evoSkins

b2evolution 0.8 will come with blog skins (evoSkins).

What are blog skins?

Well basically if you've used any skin-enabled software (like WinAMP) you probably have an idea. ;)

Bloggers using b2evo will be able to select a complete look & feel for their blog by just clicking on the "skin" they like the most.

b2evo will come with a few selected blog skins from cool people who already allowed their design to be included in the release package. B) Hopefully, new skins will be made available in the community so bloggers not knowing or willing to design their own will have a great choice available... :D

The other benefit of evoSkins is that your readers can also choose, from a selection of skins you provide, which one they like the most! :D

(Of course, this is optional... in case you don't like the idea! ;) )

What about my current blog template? :?:

If you already have a b2 blog template and just want to upgrade, you can just reuse it without worrying about skins.

Alternatively, you can turn your existing template into an evoSkin (instructions provided) and take full advantage of the evoSkins skinning system.

What's the difference between evoSkins and a CSS style switcher? :?:

Good question! Why do we need evoSkins when we already have CSS? :)

As a matter of fact, a blog skin can be as simple as a custom CSS design. But evoSkins can also provide more variations than what you can do with CSS. Here are a few examples:

  • Some evoSkins may have popups for comments while others display them inline
  • Some evoSkins may have a very light HTML footprint for use on Palm and mobile devices and others may have a full-featured output
  • Somes evoSkins may use plain standard HTML/XHTML, others XML, others WML, others cHTML, and others even FLASH! (=> BTW, if you are a Flash designer and want to work on accessibility compliant Flash Blogging, please contact me! :) )

I'll put up a demo as soon as I have a minute. I'm a little overloaded by the upcomming week-end right now... :roll: