Life after Wordpress

sketchy flower

Flower graphic drawn using Harmony

One hack too many

This is a post that took more than a year to write, working off and on for many nights and weekends.

I have had a love/hate relationship with Wordpress ever since I transitioned to it from blogger (after from my earlier homebrew solution, and after Manilasites). I like how easy it makes the simple things, but then it frustrates me whenever I try to put source code in my entries (largely what I blog about) or embed an applet, or embed some custom javascript. Then I got hacked, and cleaned it up, starting being more careful to upgrade to the latest version continuously, then I got hacked again. And so I quit.

I first used Maciej Cegłowski's tips in Using WordPress to generate flat files to restore my blog without the hacker-inserted spam links, as static files. Unlike his tip, I had no desire to run Wordpress locally and push static files to the site. Once I'd gone this far, I wanted to finish the job.

My old, home-grown blog scripts (code-named Sandcastle) were still around. I had started that project a little too ambitiously. It was going to be a native OS X desktop app, a server-side component, etc. But there were some pieces that more or less worked, so I took those and started building a blog library from them. I had to do a lot of data cleanup, and a lot of recoding some of the projects on my site. Some had been broken for a long time already because of changes I had made, other thing had broken in one of the Wordpress upgrades or another. So in addition to fixing my tools for blogging, I wanted to make sure there were no broken projects on my site. I will be discussing these projects in an upcoming post.

A lot of what I did was rip things out, make the tools simpler and more understandable, and to use components others had written to reduce the amount of code I had to write and maintain. I moved to Python2.6, which has library routines for UUIDs and ISO-8601 formatted dates, so I could eliminate my own versions of those. There is still more clean up to do, and I'm not completely happy with the stylesheet I've written, but for now I think it is good enough to start using and I can revisit to make changes once I see how it's working.

Once I remove a bit more of the uglier bits, I will open source Sandcastle, in case anyone is interested. I don't recommend it as a general purpose blogging engine--it is very specific to how I like to work. But I still run several Wordpress blogs for my family, so I may generalize it enough to serve their needs too at some point.

In addition to fixing up old projects, I've moved my external links from to Pinboard, also by Maciej Cegłowski, and I wrote my own twitter widget. It's actually been a lot of fun pulling all these pieces together and thinking about the best ways to snap them in place. For instance, there is a script to trigger building the site from text files, but it is still served as static files without a server process exposed to the web (no more Wordpress hacks!).

There's still a bunch of work I'd like to do on it, but for now it is good to be able to blog again.


[] Posted on 2010-03-13 by Dethe Elza

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