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.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Some more ramblings on editing HTML

Between the expanding scope of the Unofficial Official Company Blog (and yes, I realize I haven't updated that much since the Official Launch, but this past week at The Office has been rather horrendous) and discussion with Bunny about how I create entries (the physical act of writing, not the fact that I buy my ideas wholesale from a store in Schenectady) has me worrying over the mechanics of writing entries yet again.

Now, while I'm willing to suffer the limitations of my blogging software (and lament about them from time to time) I don't think others will. When I thought that I might be the primary author for The Saltmine Chronicles the rather poor state of hypertext editing wasn't much of an issue. But given Smirk's intent to have other people make entries (or comments—I'm still not entirely sure what he wants; heck, I don't think even he knows entirely what he wants) is another matter entirely.

The main problem is maintaining well formed HTML in the face of human editing. When I make a mistake, I can go in and fix the mistake, but that currently involves editing the entry on the server and regenerating the main page (if the entry in question appears on the main page). The workflow for mod_blog doesn't have much support for post-editing of entries (I think—and you would think that as the author of the software in question I would know, but there are some features that I just don't use that often), nor for queuing entries for later editorial aproval (a feature I never really thought of, to tell the truth).

I may have to switch The Saltmine Chronicles over to a more mainstream blogging tool, which is something I'd hate to do, and it's only partially due to having to admit defeat. One feature I haven't seen is the support of new entries via email (which is my preferred method of creating new entries), since my email client supports drafts, it rarely crashes and if it does, I can salvage anything I was editing at the time of the crash. No so if I have to edit in a browser (never mind that I can't stand editing in a browser). And one other small reason I don't like other blogging engines—I have to learn yet another templating system.

But if I have to switch, I have to switch.

And that still doesn't fully fix the editing problems though—it's endemic to blogging and most blogging editors seem to lie between “you write the HTML yourself” and “you never see HTML so you're stuck with what we give you.” And none of them look like they would work well with mod_blog (for example—they assume too much about tags, which are free form in mod_blog, not limited like in every other blogging system I've seen).

This is a hard problem.

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