Hacking Thy Fearful Symmetry

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Just What the World Needs: Another Blogging Engine

created: September 23, 2010
Powered by a Gamboling Beluga

It's a well-known fact in the computer world that any given application will evolve until it develops emailing functionality. Likewise, it seems that programmers are genetically predestined to, sooner or later, churn out a blog engine.

I tried to resist. I honestly did.

I would have adopted Wordpress a long time ago, but considering that I'm mostly blogging about my Perl adventures, I always saw as a moral imperative that my soapbox should match the cleaner I'm preaching for. Noble sentiment, isn't? Well... Cue in a quest of many years to find The Perfect Blogging Platforms.

I tried Movable Type. While not not bad, I wasn't overly in love with the way it creates the blog pages statically. I didn't have the patience to deep-dive into its innards to learn how I could write plugins for it either.

So I waved MT good-bye, and moved to Angerwhale. I confess, I was rather fond of the irate cetacean. But there were some issues. And development dwindled. And I wasn't entirely comfortable with the rude error messages. After a while, I found myself looking again for another option.

(Esoteric side-story: there's something magic about Angerwhale. I removed the application from my web server at least 2 years ago. Since then, I changed operating system and machine, and my web cache has been obliterated untold times. Regardless, to this day I still can't load my blog via Firefox without having some ghost stylesheet mess up my layout. Or have the publication dates of long gone entries plastered around. Spooky stuff...)

Anyway. At that point, I joined use.perl.org. The exposure to the community was truly awesome -- that was in the days before we had many Perl aggregators like Perl Iron Man, Perlsphere and Planet Perl -- but the look and feel was... maybe a little bit dated. Entries written in raw html? Claustrophobically minuscule input boxes for comments (that must be also written using html)? Really? Eventually my restless heart once more yearned for new horizons.

I looked at blawd, blosxom, rjbs' Rubric and a few others. Some of them were very close of what I wanted, but... not quite.

I'm telling you, Goldilock has nothing on me.

By that time, I gave up and acknowledged it was futile to deny my dark urge any longer. I drew the list of core features I wanted in a blog engine:

  • Able to write entries in Markdown (or such wiki-like format) or HTML.

  • Entries that can be easily plopped in, and just as easily retrieved. Bonus points if it is from the command line.

  • RSS Feed (or Atom, I'm not picky).

  • Commenting system.

  • Template easily accommodating the addition of social widgets -- Iron Man badge, Twitter feed, Ohloh stack, GitHub projects, etc.

  • Tag-based classification system.

  • Code pretty-printing.

I rolled my sleeves and... enter the Gamboling Beluga, or Galuga for short.

Galuga is a Catalyst application. While it uses a temporary SQLite database to serve the blog entries, the entries themselves are stored as simple text files that look like this:

title: Just What the World Needs: Another Blogging Engine
url: galuga
format: markdown
created: 23 Sep 2010
tags:
    - Perl
    - Galuga
    - blog engine
    - Angerwhale
---

It's a well-known fact in the computer world that any given application
will evolve until it develops emailing functionality. Likewise, [..]

I began writing its webpages' templates using Mason, but later took the occasion to try out Template::Declare. For the comment sub-system, I took the easy way out and outsourced the problem to Disqus.

It's still all very rough and experimental, but this very blog has been running on it for a few weeks now and so far, so good. While I doubt it's going to change the face of the blogosphere, it managed to finally placate my blog itch.
After all those years, it feels darn good. :-)

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