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Blog Plug-in Project
Hi I have nearly finished a mini-blog plug-in and wanted to share and discuss this with forum members. First of all the I in "I have finished" is mainly Virginia from GT, since the plug-in is based on the Personal Page plug-in that I share info about here :

So that people who are discovering this post on a blog plug-in have some forum type background info both "fuzzy logic" and "pugdog" have posted about doing plug-ins and so this is not the first post about the idea. I wouldn't want to steal their thunder or anything.

My approach is the following :
I was looking for a way to allow a Link user to create their own blog page. My strategy is that getting people to create something for themselves is generally easier than getting them to create something for you or a community. My site is about letting people share their travel experiences so that others can read about it and potentially also enjoy the place or things described.

A minimalist definition of blogs : they allow people to publish articles in categories and let visitors post comments about the articles.

Rather than go into detail on how I did it here is what the mini-blog plug-in does.
Each user that want's to can activate a blog page (make it publicly available). They can choose how many of their last articles they want to display. They can allow people to search in their articles or/and in all articles on the site. As an admin you can potentially let them choose between differently styled / designed pages…

You can get closer and closer to a full blown blog by adding the following plug-ins I had GT create : Review Mod plug-in allow as many comments as you have defined in the admin panel to be posted and require comments to be validated before being posted. Permalink plug-in allow a short permalink type url for users to refer to their articles.
By using Andy's plug-in that alerts people when a comment has been posted about their article or even a comment posted about an article where you also posted a comment you get more than most blogs solutions offer !
I am discussing with GT about creating a trackback plug-in that would allow the trackback functionality as well as a calendar/archive type plug-in that would provide the side bar link to previous articles function seen on some blogs. Although this might not be necessary from what I have just been reading about Andy's Search Date plug-in (have to check this out). I don't know if anybody has any knowledge of the trackback system as per (http://www.sixapart.com/pronet/docs/trackback_spec) ?

It is possible to add blog functionality to Links in varied degrees of complexity and I'd really like to know if others are interested in this. I've been trying to persuade GT this an interesting addition. I think it is a great way to get users involved in a site and get them adding content to your site and talking about the theme of your site. Let me know what you think ?

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Re: [Jag] Blog Plug-in Project In reply to

You aren't stealing thundar <G>

I went off on a different direction for awhile, and actually, it's helped me rethink how to do it all.

There are two ways. You can leave Glinks/Links as a backbone ,and try to hang all sorts of ornaments off it, or you can totally rethink the whole concept of what Links is, and simplify it all <G>

What I did/am doing with the ImageSQL etc programs (I have about 4 in parallel development at this point) was to re-think the whole concept of how to manage data within links. Rather than build a framework on top of a framework, I decided to use the User as the key piece of data, rather than the "link".

When you think through that, and expand the user table to include all the good stuff about a user, preferences, likes, bio's etc (or hang it off an aux table from Users) you suddenly clean up the whole Links database.

Now, you can do two things or more, but basically it comes down to two things.

1) when a user joins (or exists) automatically set up a category for them make them "editor" and let them go at it,
2) allow a user to request a catagory set up and be made editor, etc.

what happens is this.

1) you suddenly have access to *all* the features of Links -- Users, Links, Categoris, Editors, etc. With all the plugins, features, and stuff already written.
2) You only have to make minor modifications to some access scripts, and such to enable it all. You don't mess with the guts of it all.
3) It suddenly clears up all the excess stuff you are thinking about having to add it. <G>

Using CSS, the power of custom templates, and such, you can turn a category that is "owned" by a user into a special sort of beast.
You give that user "power" to do things in it, such as set up categories (or pre-set categories with special features) to which they add "links".

When the ImageSQL program in the Models and Photographers Gallery Lite version is released, it will resemble a blog in many ways. It won't *look* like a blog, because it doesn't have all that spammamation stuff like track backs and pings, etc. It does allow a user to create a miniature "community" of their own, posting images (mainly) (but it could be anything -- stories, articles, whatever you configure your link to do), getting comments, reviews, ratings, and all sorts of feed back. In addition, it will allow networking, connections, and users inter-linking their links with others (eg: a photographer who posts a picture can link to the models, stylists, locations, etc in that image).

So far, the only major issue I've run into is the User table has no auto-index field, and the Auth_Community for GLinks would have to be modified as would the Community modules to allow using the similar format for GForum for GLinks. This would allow users the flexibility to change the Username, but not lose any of their links or data.

Since "user" would be an end-node (or leaf) in any tree (no public categories or data areas would hang off a user) using a category to represent a user makes total sense. everything below that "user" belongs to them, and isn't part of the "public" system. (It's public, in the respect it can be viewed, but it's not a "commons" area, or part of the base structure of the site).

I've moved off in a slightly different manner, since I see blogs as nothing but "spam" in their current incarnation. 90% are just out to send out and recirculate bogus trafic. Some are not even circulating actual articles -- just jibberish.

The concept of a wikki, merged with a blog, in the structure of a Links hierarchy (rather than the anarchanistic circular linking of a wikki) seems to be the best format, for what I want to do, for developing new content offerings. You have a commons area, but people can congregate or group themselves along the walls, or perimeter of the various content areas to which they want to belong.

The best reasons to do it this way, are you preserve all the power of what is built into Links, and you are just adding on through the normal system of updates. Each update/upgrade gets applied to all users, but all users still have their own access/control limited by the core security of the system. It will (should) survive upgrades, and still allow you to run a very flexible, varied, and completely customized site.

PUGDOG� Enterprises, Inc.

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Re: [pugdog] Blog Plug-in Project In reply to

At the moment the Personal Page system I use adds functions and preferences so that users can decide how, what and whether to display content. In this sense I guess our approaches are similar. It also uses CSS and dynamic templates…

I tried to stay as close as possible to Links in order to a) make integration and updates easy b) make the most of Links as a community tool with the aggregation of personal pages and/or blogs. I think the concept of creating personal communities seems a bit complicated in view of the time required for people to manage a simple blog IMHO.

I’m not sure I agree with you on the fact that blogs are for web spamming (although I know you aren't so categorical really;). When I started out on the web in 1993 people told me web sites were just for porn or games when/if they had a shady idea of what it was. Although I think the concept of blogs is sometimes a lot of marketing buzz, a blog is a good a way to let people, that don’t know much about html, publish their ideas or work and without it costing the earth. It’s obvious that some people will use and abuse them but that always happens.

Anyway I am spending the next few days translating my French version into English so that people that don’t speak French can get an idea of what I’m talking about :)

As I was saying if anybody knows anything about trackback I'd be very interested

Thanks, John
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Jag: Feb 17, 2006, 8:35 AM
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Re: [Jag] Blog Plug-in Project In reply to
Hi Jag,

the plug-ins you created are just the things I would need for my website as I am also running a tourism-related website and I need something where people are able to tell about their travel-experiences, etc. in order to create some content, community-building between site-users, social-media, etc.

It would be great if GT could enhance your plug-ins in a way, so that it would be easier to implement and setup these plugins.
I would like to see a "ready-made" plug-in solution which will be installed and then it should run smoothly. I do not see this at the moment.

Best regards,

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Re: [erichcyber] Blog Plug-in Project In reply to
Hi Erich,

Sorry I have been pretty busy and have only just logged in to check your post. You are correct that the plug-in does require some coding to get the most of it and I have only just got round to finishing the French version so I'll need a bit more time on getting an English version working !

As to the main comment you made I think that I wanted the personal page plug-in to be as open as possible in order to allow for just this which is the ability to create a basic blog with it. I can understand the attractiveness of having it automatically install and give you a blog. This is feasible but GT doesn't seem to convinced many people are interested in adding this type of functionality to Links and as this post illustrates by the lack of response they could be right !

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Re: [Jag] Blog Plug-in Project In reply to
GT's underestimated a number of things, which are hampering their competitive edge.

1) Integrated Community with remote logons. People have just given up, but without it, they can't use the programs effectively. Just because they aren't B&Ming every day, means after 2-3 years they've worn out. The need hasn't gone away.

2) blog functionality (eg: interactiveness) is also underestimated, as if that feature were available, more people would see GLinks as a CMS. Right now, for people who want a CMS for their own work, they *NEED* a blog (or think they do) to make themselves heard.

There are a few others, but those are the biggest at the moment.

The image management/gallery stuff I'm working on again, and I needed it 6 years ago, and wrote it in then, in Links SQL 1x, and now I think a number of things have advanced enough that it's worth the time/effort to "fork" GLinks to make an image management program, specifically for managing image-based sites, with needs from simply gallery display to advanced photographer/model/client matchups and Stock Agency features.

GT has only really looked at the GT:: libraries as base/core libraries for building apps, but really the entire Links / GLinks program is needed, since a lot of the initial access and set up routines are pulled through the Links.pm module.

They should really build a skelleton application upon the base libraries, with generalized access routines, of which GLinks is the sample, and archetypical application upon which to build.

But I digress :)

I've been "into" the internals of this program since it was first released, and actually since the last 2.0 flat-file version when I first set up Postcards.com. I'm about to redo that site, for the first time since LinksSQL 2.0 came out, once the ImageSQL program has been updated. I've watched the program grow and change, and have not been shy about both praise and criticism of it along the way. I still feel from all the application development platforms for perl (I can't stand PHP, and C is simply not maintainable for most people) GLinks and their GT:: module library is still the way to go. I can do in this program in hours or days what would take days or weeks with other programs. I was able to clone several "major" sites or site-building programs in LinksSQL 2.0 to show that point, and I think the GLinks 3 is even better (though there are still missing features).

So, back to this, and a couple of other messages I replied to tonight, it would be nice if GT got to listening to some of the long-term customers, programmers, developers and users that have brought the program this far, and weighted their comments and insights a bit higher than they have.

The Internet is poised for another level of growth, and GLinks could be part of that growth *if* a few addtional features were added to give it a major competitive edge:

1) enhanced back-end admin features with more "global" and fine-tuning.
2) enhanced integrated image handling (though I'm building my own at this point)
3) remote logons, and update/upgrade of Community to handle linking GLinks and GForum mainly across domains.
4) blog-like functionality for people who need a CMS environment for article publishing and distribution
5) advanced mailing list features to allow setting up different lists, not solely based on categories, and handling bounced mail, double-opt-in and such.
6) (one other, and it just really shot out of my mind <sigh>)

Just needed some break from all the grunt work here. I should have another update of my new project out shortly, and I'm hoping to have auto-gallery creation in the next pre-alpha, along with the advanced profile editor. If the profile editor works, I should have that out as a separate plugin shortly after, since I think it's sort of cool. Be nice to have it integrated with Community and GForum though :) (back to the whole integration thing <G>)

PUGDOG� Enterprises, Inc.

The best way to contact me is to NOT use Email.
Please leave a PM here.
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Re: [pugdog] Blog Plug-in Project In reply to
Hi pugdog,
Thanks for your feedback Smile

I must say that having worked on some high-end products like StoryServer I have always seen Links as a CMS product in the making but as you pointed out GT does not seem to see it that way. The GT libraries are not something I have a good knowledge of but I agree that they do a terrific job.
I do feel as if it has been a battle to get the idea of blog functionality across.
However, that said, I am very happy with the site that I have recently launched, I owe a lot to GT. I have stood beside GT because of the community spirit they help prosper and the quality of their products and services. Through this community I was able to work with GT, but with you pugdog and Andy and Laura and several other very helpful people. My site wouldn't be what it is today without everybody's help and I suppose you're right that some people do have a bigger impact on the way Links is seen, used and evolves from a functional point of view and all this effort has lead to a very interesting product.

My overall opinion is that Links is a great product and I would love to help GT offer a real blog solution to Links users. Taking it at face value you see that others offer it for free and therefore there is no money in it. The free offering part is just a misconception with regards to the power it provides by creating and providing content that in turn is attractive for advertisers just to start with. It also helps with search engines since the content is more than often original etc.
And as both you and Jack know I don't roll over and give up in the face of adversity so I'm far from giving up on the idea... Wink
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