The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Friday, Debtember 10, 1999

Hypertext, weblogs and journals

I'm going to have to work on more details of this if I'm going to to this. The internal anchor names will have to change. Since I'm currently using SSI for this, I just realized it's not going to work. Also, while I have an idea for how I want to store the data, the main problem is one of creating the daily update page.

I like the format for weblogs where a few days worth of entries exist on the main page, but the storing of each day's entry is leading me more towards a journal like layout. If I didn't want to have several days worth of entries on the main page, then there wouldn't be a problem.

Also, doing this weblog/journal experiment is making me wish there was a better way of doing styles than there is currently. It would be nice if all browsers (including Lynx) supported CSS, or XML and XCSS or whatever it's called. I suppose that's what PHP is for. And in that limited case, PHP might be a good compromise. But I still don't like PHP all that much. Can't say why, other than a case of Not Invented Here Syndrome.

Besides, I feel that the work I did on the Electric King James is relavent here—namely a better way of referencing content.

A few years ago I identified why I dislike WEB, and it came down to it failed my “1 am scenario.” Namely, that I'm a maintenance programmer, it's 1 am and I have this bug I have to fix yesturday and I'm staring at this huge mess of a file. It came down to a mixing of What (an interface or data description), why (the documentation) and how (the actual code). Very ugly. I solved that problem (at least for me) by separating all three out (what are the header files, how are the source files, and why is the documentation written).

But a week or two ago, I realized that what I've been trying to achieve with web-based programs can be solved by a similar separation—only in this case, it's not what, how or why, but data, definition and display (or substance, structure and style). HTML is an ad-hoc mixture of definition and display with data. I can't comment on SGML, not knowing it well enough, but XML seems to be a strict data and definition mixture with display being left out (or left to the style sheets). That's okay, but it still makes transclusion difficult. That's not saying it can't be done; it has, to some degree. But if the data and definition were separated, it might make transclusion easier.

Although some might say too easy.

Anyway, the reason I'm going on about the separation of data, definition and display is to help me at least, organize what is amounting to, a large amount of random data. And in a way, my mod_litbook is related. Certainly, the data, definition and display are separated, but it still isn't a generalized solution yet. But I'm getting there. I think I'm on the right track here.

I'm also going to have to deal with META tags and whatnot.

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You have my permission to link freely to any entry here. Go ahead, I won't bite. I promise.

The dates are the permanent links to that day's entries (or entry, if there is only one entry). The titles are the permanent links to that entry only. The format for the links are simple: Start with the base link for this site:, then add the date you are interested in, say 2000/08/01, so that would make the final URL:

You can also specify the entire month by leaving off the day portion. You can even select an arbitrary portion of time.

You may also note subtle shading of the links and that's intentional: the “closer” the link is (relative to the page) the “brighter” it appears. It's an experiment in using color shading to denote the distance a link is from here. If you don't notice it, don't worry; it's not all that important.

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