Release preview

It's time for a preview release. We'll call this one LnBlog 0.8.0-pre1. I don't really want to call it a beta release, because that would imply that the feature set is at least close to finalized. I'm actually still not sure if I want to release after a little more testing or add a few more features and call it version 1.0.0.

Since this is a testing release, I of course recommend keeping a backup copy of the previous version around. No blog upgrades are required, so just upload the new version and rename it after your old installation. Note a few old plugins are now redundant and have been removed and a file has been added in the userdata folder, so I the recommended starting with the fresh installation directory and copying over your old userdata folder rather than trying to upload the new files into your existing directory.

This is going to be a major feature addition release. The big one in this release is support for sending and receiving Pingbacks. If you're not already aware, Pingbacks are very similar to TrackBacks, in that they are used to send a notification to another blog that you've linked to them. The main differences are that 1) Pingbacks are significantly more complicated to implement and 2) Pingbacks don't suffer from the same spam problems as TrackBacks, due to the fact that the server, rather than the client, determines what data goes into them.

The second bigish feature is support for enclosures. Basically, this means podcasting support. An enclosure is just a hint to an RSS reader that a post is related to a particular file so that it can be downloaded in the background. All you need to do is enter the URL of the file in the box and, provided it's on the same server, LnBlog will calculate the MIME type and file size to insert into the RSS feed. I also added a default profile.ini file that allows you to enter a "contact me" URL. Basically, you enter the HTML for the link you want and this will be displayed in your profile instead of your e-mail address. You can use that in ContactForm plugin.

There's a bunch of smaller stuff in this release too. Check the change log for the details. For starters, I did some cleanup to various plugins. For example, I added a "ban and delete" option to the IPBan plugin, added the "new standard" RSS icons to the sidebar, made the calendar look slightly less crappy, added a stylesheet to the RSS 2 feeds (so they look like something in a browser), and created RSS feeds for comments even when there are no comments yet.

There are also a number of small bug fixes. For example, TrackBacks finally work regardless of whether or not you have CURL. I also found a bug with receiving the response code when sending TrackBacks. I also fixed a few small display issues that were weird or didn't make sense.

Last, there's a bit of code cleanup and consolidation. For instance, the TrackbackNotifier and CommentNotifier plugins are now gone, replaced by a generic ReplyNotifier plugin that handles comments, TrackBacks, and Pingbacks. I also consolidated some functions in the utility library and a few things in the entry subclasses.

I'm debating whether to hold off on the next release, add some features, and go straight to version 1.0. Before that, I want to at least add a simple theme editor. My plan is to do something very simple and hacky: a stylesheet editor. Basically, just a GUI to automatically generate a stylesheet based on settings entered by the user. The idea is that this stylesheet will just be inserted into the page last, thus overriding the default settings for the theme.

Other possibile features include more granular security, support for draft entries, and Atom feeds, among other cleanup. If I'm going to go straight to version 1.0, then I'll probably try to do some of these first. Anyone have any thoughts on other features for 1.0 or opinions on the release schedule?

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Comments #


    I've only just come back from my holiday, so I couldn't get down to that any earlier. I'll just give a short-ish comment on my view on the release schedule/feature list side of things:

    1) Bug fixes and code cleanups are always welcome - in that order. If you can make things better while making life easier for yourself and others, go ahead - it's always worth it. However, I'd try not to leave any obvious enhancements drop before doing a x. release, so if what you want to achieve needs another step in between, I'd opt for a .x release. As soon as you've settled on a final feature set, you might as well go straight for x., but as long as this isn't clear, I'd advice against it: You can't test as thoroughly as necessary as long as your still implementing new stuff...
    2) Some of the things you mention make LnBlog a very modern system indeed - it's worth testing the PingBack/TrackBack feature set and anything that goes with it very thoroughly since you might get ahead of other systems in that respect! But I don't understand half of what this stuff is all about, I'll have to do some reading-up before I can comment more specifically on that....
    3) In order to make working and playing with LnBlog even more worthwhile, the inclusion of the StyleSheet editor seems an obvious step; I like your idea - just don't make it only colours, but also font, list and link styles (something like this: [for PunBB] - I think I've posted the link before; I hope that the output will be considerably cleaner than SpinkBB's, though). Most people bother a lot about the look of things (even if this is not the most important thing if you ask me - I'd rather have things up and working than looking posh while failing miserably...).


    The next release

    Welcome back! Hope you enjoyed your holiday.

    1) The next release will definitely be version 0.8.0. I think I was overcome with a fit of optimism when I suggested jumping to 1.0.0. I want to do some cleanup and polish up the look of things before then. However, all that will take some time.

    2) Thanks, I think it's coming along rather nicely. I'm not exactly on the cutting edge here, though - the TrackBack and Pingback specifications were published in 2002. The up side is that TrackBack and Pingback, like the blogging APIs, are easier to test than the other aspects of the software because they have published specifications that clearly define how they're supposed to work. Plus, thanks to TrackBack spammers, I've already gotten plenty of free testing on receiving TrackBacks. ;)

    3) Just for the record, version 0.8.0 will definitely not have any kind of theme editor yet. I think that will be the big feature addition for version 1.0.0. I want to do some more cleanup and consolidation of the templates and style sheet (you were right - there are *way* too many CSS files) and it's probably better to finish that first. I'll start working more on this after the next release.

    For the editor itself, I was thinking of something vaguely similar to the detailed mode for the PunBB editor you linked to. I probably won't do the whole base color thing (maybe later, but not right away), but there would be sections for various page objects (sidebar, banner, blog entry, etc.) and input controls to enter things like colors, background, font, text size and weight, link style, and whatever else seems applicable. Naturally I'd want to include some JavaScript magic to make it all work nicer. Unfortunately, there are an awful lot of options to cover and I'd like to have some way of accounting for variations in the templates between different themes, so it's going to take a while. I'll be posting specific ideas and screenshots as things take shape.

    Good way to go

    I agree with everything I read here, including the schedule for feature inclusion, and as always, I'm looking forward to it. I'll have to prepare a LnBlog installation with various blogs and users in Octobre, and I hope to be using 0.8.0 by then. But of course, 0.7.3 is good enough for me (it's the version that convinced me to change to LnBlog for my main site, after all). The moment you finished streamlining the CSS level, I might be tempted to do some templating.

    Sorry about my lack of knowledge about TrackBack and PingBack - I'm an old fashioned Web 1.0 user, not a blogger by origin, I've only just discovered the trade - however, I've not come across many software packages that implement this on a visible level (and I've used/am using some of the big fish applications out there like WordPress and Textpattern).

    Since I'm leaving again by the end of next week and have a considerable amount of work to do, I can't do any thorough testing on the preview - I'll try to get my hands into that after August 20, however...

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