Friday, 30 March 2007

A blog to call my own

So, I've been thinking about shifting my blog over to my homepage recently. Why? well blogger's great, but I really need to move out and find a blog of my own. I want a tighter control over the content, I want to integrate it with my website's styling and layout and maintaining it in two places violates the DRY principle...

Ok, so I'm lazy and don't want to have to maintain stylesheets/layouts in two places :P

So anyway, in Rails, the major blog movers-and-shakers atm are Mephisto and Typo. They're both great. They provide heaps of functionality and have a thriving developer community. But they're a little on the top-heavy side. All the bells an whistles, Mephisto is almost a full CMS... you have to pretty much install either one as a new app (or hack it a lot ot fit with your existing one).

This is great if:

  1. you're starting an entirely new website from scratch
  2. you like using a CMS-approach to organise your site for you
  3. you're ok with your blog being a completely independant rails app.

In my case:

  1. I already have a pre-existing website. It might not be much, but I like what I've done and I don't want to have to re-hack it to fit around my blog software. Conversely, I don't want to spend hours hacking my blog software to fit in with my website - and risk destabilising the upgrade path (which kinda defeats the purpose).
  2. I'm a rails freelancer - not a stay-at-home mum. I like to get my hands dirty in the innards of my site. I don't like having the structure of said site dictated to me by some upstart CMS (no matter how shiny). I like to call the shots on my own turf
  3. We're seriously violating the DRY principle here. Why on earth would I want to maintain two separate sets of layout/styling? or two separate authentication systems? Single sign-on is a PITA. Yes, there are solutions, but why invite the problem into your home? and you couldn't integrate the layouts (eg put your latest post on the homepage) without contortions. No RESTful articles_path for you!

What I really want is to be able to do something like
script/plugin install blog
and have it all Just Work(tm). That doesn't seem available anywhere.

So, I've decided to write my own.

It won't be anything flash, just something bog-simple to allow me to post articles, tag them, let people comment and generate an RSS feed. It won't have whizz-bang flickr integration (well, probably not), but it's all that most people seem to need.

I'll post updates here as I progress.


Rob said...

Not sure if this helps, but have you looked at SimpleLog ( It's a RoR blog by Garrett Murray and seems very 'lightweight' and easy to customize -- I've never used it but have followed it's progress over the past couple of months. His blog at is an example of it running..


Taryn said...

Hi rob,
Actually yes, I had that one pointed out to me. AFAICS it also assumes you don't already have a website - ie it is intended as a stand-alone app.
For one thing - I already have an authentication system. I really don't want to have to hack it out of SimpleLog.
But thanks - it does look like the most light-weight of those available.

Falkayn said...


It may be too late to help, but it might be useful seeing as you have that new contract and perhaps less free time ... I've used to place a piece of Javascript on my website that pulled in my Blogger blog posts to it (see Cattle Dog).

Users that click for more detail on the post, or to leave comments, get taken back to blogger, but otherwise they view the posts within your normal website. It does leave you maintaining two stylesheets for your blog posts, but you could always reference the one on your normal website from within blogger so that it is one actual file.

However, it is much cooler to roll your own.

Taryn said...

Yeah, you're right - I got stuck into my new contract and spare time has dropped pretty low... and currently all being taken up by my mum who's over visiting from the States this fortnight ;)
In any case - that does sound like a neat thing to do. Though as you've pointed out, I'd still have to maintain two stylesheets :P
I am planning on finishing the roll-my-own. I guess I also like the idea of maintaining the content on my own site. It's also due to that feeling of being in control of my own destiny. Probably just a false sense of security, but hey... ;)