"The wise man can pick up a grain of sand and envision a whole universe. But the stupid man will just lie down on some seaweed and roll around until he’s completely draped in it. Then he’ll stand up and go, 'Hey, I’m Vine Man'."

- Jack Handy, Deep Thoughts
More upgrades

I still haven't released alpha build 4, but a number of pretty useful enhancements have been made and I've upgraded this blog with the new version.

I'm also gearing up to setup the blog for a few alpha testers. More on that soon.

Watch me for the changes . . .

Devblog upgraded

The Devblog has been upgraded to Bloo alpha build 4. I'll put this into public release after I kick the tires a bit.

Some nifty enhancements in this one, plus a shift in the base layout that might mess up anyone who has created their own theme - but the upgrade program and release notes will hopefully provide the answers for that.

In other news, I have several alpha testers lined up, and will be setting up some test blogs in the next few days! There have been a dozen or so downloads of the alpha 3 build since I put it out last Thursday. Cool . . .

If you've lost your mind you can also download the latest nightly build (which happens to be this one) off of CVS - just go to the sourceforge project page for Bloo (shown in the right navbar).

Night all . . .

Alpha testers needed

Interested in alpha testing this thing? I've posted a bleg for alpha testers on both The Thinklings and Out of the Bloo. Let me know if you're interested - you can contact me at supportAToutoftheblooDOTcom.

Thanks!

Bloo version 1.00.a.003 released

The third alpha build of Bloo has just been released! There are a number of features and bugfixes in this release (checkout the release notes for more information) but the biggest feature in this release is the addition of dynamic overlays. An overlay is anything controlling the look of the blog (for instance, the format of the post you're looking at right now is built from the Post overlays). A dynamic overlay is an overlay that the blog administrator can change on the fly. So a Bloo administrative user can now very easily change the look and feel of their blog. And the changes are non-destructive, meaning that the original, released version of the overlay does not get destroyed if it is overlayed by the blog administrator.

For instance, one change I just made on the fly is the appearance of the permalinks. in the release the time (i.e., "@ 9:18 pm" in this post) is the permalink. But I just created a custom overlay and switched the permalink to be on the post title.

Another big change: overlays are no longer stored in the proprietary format cooked up in the .OVL files. They now live in standard XML files. Much better . . .

Also, three extensions were added to the growing stable of Bloo extensions. They are the ThemeSelector (which is activated on this blog as the Select Theme dropdown in the right sidebar), the ReadingList extension, which will allow a blogger to show a list of books they are currently reading, and the PopularPosts extension, which will show the top ten most commented posts. I might actually think about using this one if I ever get anyone commenting here :-). These joined the original extension released with the first version of bloe, the Bloo Quote overlay, from whence comes the Jack Handy rotating quote above.

One other change of note: there is a new Theme called "Lintefiniel". It's lifted from the theme utilized by our friend Jen in her blog Lintefiniel Musing. I liked the color scheme and so created a Bloo version of it. You can see it by selecting "Lintefiniel" from the list of themes in the ThemeSelector dropdown in the right navbar.

In the next release some more important functionality will be added, such as (finally!) some decent spam control (probably just a kaptcha for starters) and the ability to upload pics to a blog post.

I also plan on contacting the author of SpamKarma and getting his permission to try and port SpamKarma to Bloo. That would rock.

Watch me for the changes . . .

Alpha build 3 is coming out tonight!

I'm stoked about this one. It begins to open up the flexibility of the Bloo architecture when it comes to the look and feel of a blog.

Tonight's the night - more info on the new features will be forthcoming.

I'm up to 13 downloaders of Bloo alpha build 2, but still have no idea if anyone is actually using the thing. :-)

Closer

To this point 11 people have downloaded alpha build 2.

Build 3 is very close. Working on the upgrade program now - here at Bloo enterprises :-) we're committed to automated processes - don't ever want anyone to have to install anything manually.

Some cool ideas are cooking regarding virtual themes and the ability for theme-builders to ship their completed themes straight to a Bloo site that will make them available to the public. That will rock (it will be coming in a later release).

Watch me for the changes.

Some downloads happening

There have been 9 downloads of Bloo alpha build 2. Which isn't much but, to be honest, it's pretty thrilling for me. The goal of this thing is to provide a good blogging tool for people I don't know, after all, so if people are downloading it that's moving us closer to the goal.

That being said, I'm not sure anyone has actually installed it yet, or created any posts. So if you have downloaded it and would like to let me know please leave a comment or email me at supportAToutoftheblooDOTcom. There is an "anomoly" (translation: d'oh!) in the css for the 2nd build which makes it look awful in IE, but the fix is easy.

I'm also really anxious to get the third alpha build out there. It's almost ready! It makes the jump to the real power of Bloo, which is complete control over the interface separate from any PHP coding, and non-destructive to the original themes. I need to document this once the third build is out there because I'm not sure how intuitive modifying the overlays will be for people - it seems easy to do for me, but, of course, I wrote the thing so . . .

In any event, if you're an early adopter of Bloo please let me know.

The third build will hit in a few days. Watch me for the changes . . .

Alpha 3 coming

I'm getting very close. Lots of changes today, mainly on Themes. I've created a new theme called Lintefiniel, in honor of the look and feel on Jen's Blog. It will be released with release 3. Provided Jen gives her permission (I've emailed her). I also have a new Devblog look coming out.

And dynamic overlays, which rock.

I will be trolling (respectfully, and only on websites I webmaster) for alpha testers very soon.

Nightly builds

Oh, and if you're interested (and you've lost your mind) you can download a nightly build of Bloo from the CVS repository. Any changed code is generally updated there every night.

The safer approach, of course, is to wait for the approved releases, since who knows what midnight derangements I might be coding into the nightly builds. :-)

Overlays

Lots of progress is happening on alpha release 3. The main aspect of this release is the introduction of dynamic, table-based overlays. This is fairly exciting stuff, because this will allow users the ability to create, in a non-descructive way, their own tweaks (and outright re-writes) of the overlays that comprise the look and feel of their blog. It's non destructive because the user can always get back to the official released xml-based overlays by just de-activating their changes.

This is going to be pretty cool. I hope to finish this release in the next few days (I have to fight the tempation to keep adding features!) One other issue to deal with is that I have to create an upgrade program.

I'll keep you posted.

Memory usage

One concern I continue to bump up against is the memory usage of bloo. I'm actually not sure what its memory usage is, but it is object oriented and - currently - it basically loads all the core snapons upon initialization - even administrative ones never used by a non-logged in user. So there's a potential that the memory footprint of Bloo may be larger than desired. Again, I've got no stats on this as of yet.

I will be watching this situation in case it turns out that I have to re-arrange and optimize the code. I don't want Bloo to be a hog!

Progress . . .

Progress is being made on the overlay inventory and "overlay of overlays" technology in Bloo. It can now load temporary (i.e., non-release/non-filesystem-based) overlays out of a database, tied to the bloo version and (if specified) the current theme.

I hope to have this piece done soon. Alpha release 3 is coming.

From ovl to xml

One of the hallmarks of the third alpha build of Bloo (due soon) is the replacement of the proprietary format ovl (overlay) files with xml. Even though xml is a bit more of a pain and harder to read because beginning and ending html tags in overlay syntax have to be coded like < and >, xml is just a much more flexible (not to mention standard) way of storing overlays.

Going to this also implies that most overlay manipulation will happen via storing to an overlay table in the database, not editing the base xml files. Which is the direction I wanted to go anyway, though doing it right will require some careful design. It has to be a) easy to do and b) very recoverable (in case you screw up an overlay beyond recognition).

Thoughts on overlays

As I work on the next release of Bloo I'm constantly thinking through the overlay strategy I've adopted. While I'm sold, completely, on the more or less model-view-controller architecture of Bloo, and I see great promise in the eventual ability of end-user administrators to easily and safely change the look and feel of their blogs via overlaying the overlays, I'm concerned about the organization of the overlays.

Frankly, there are too many of them, and it's hard sometimes even for me (who should know them best) to figure out where the particular one I need to modify lives. The answer to this conundrum will involve better inventorying tools for SnapOns and Overlays. But another tactic I'm going to experiment with over the next few days is standardizing the file-based overlay specs into XML, rather than the proprietary OVL files I've been using. This will provide max-flexibility on overlay meta-data.

Fixed . . .

Ok, the CSS is fixed. Since I didn't specify a width for the right sidebar, it just spread across the page (in IE. In every real browser I have (like FireFox and Camino) it worked fine).

As the developer of B2 said of IE - rawk on that code.

IE . . . gak!

I admit, I've never looked at this blog in IE. I'm a firefox man, meself.

The CSS is completely messed up in IE - the blog looks terrible. I'm going to try and fix, but - holy cow - I didn't even notice this.

Thank goodness no one reads this thing yet :-)

Bloo version 1.00.a.002 released

The second alpha release is now out there on the SourceForge Project Page. This is just a quick maintenance release that fixes the following bugs (note: the number is the SourceForge bug id):
- 1443807 Cookie vars should not be in scope precedence
- 1443782 Comment flood query should only happen on insert
- 1443766 Not saving comment information in a cookie
- 1443765 IP address not shown for comments
- 1442454 Comments don't display the author or url
- 1442433 Get an error when pinging pingomatic
- 1442427 Permalinks don't work.

These were more bugs than I had hoped to have in the alpha release (not to say there aren't still some lurking - it's alpha, after all ;-) - but this wasn't unexpected due to the large amount of refactoring I've been doing. Hopefully this will make things more stable.

Note: I put this in the release notes but it also should be mentioned here - to get the cookie processing working above a couple of event handlers have to be added:

Instructs:

1. Login to administer the blog
2. Click on "Lists"
3. Select "Event Handlers"
4. Select "Add New"

Enter the following information (two entries):
Event SnapOn: CommentCookieEater
Target SnapOn: CommentForm
Event Type: Pre-Render

Event SnapOn: CommentCookieBaker
Target SnapOn: CommentForm
Event Type: Post_Save

Sourceforge CVS repository created

Just another little milestone - I created the SourceForge CVS repository for Bloo tonight.

Just found a bug!

Ah, the first bug in Bloo version 1.0 alpha. *sniff*

Just noticed it.

A cool (albeit virtual and entirely symbolic) pocket-protector to the first person who figures out what it is.

I'm going to bed. Looks like release 002 of Bloo alpha will be hitting the streets sooner than I thought.

Bloo version 1.0 alpha released!

Well, I said I'd get it done by today. And I did, but just barely. The Blog you're looking at is a Bloo 1.0.a.001 alpha release. And the software is now available on the Bloo SourceForge Project Page.

The installation instructions can be found on the Bloo Wiki.

I'm extremely interested in getting some alpha testers. I'm also extremely interested in going to sleep :-) so I'll roll out more information on this over the weekend.

It was a dicey release - I've been refactoring so much over the last week or so that I had to test out every aspect of the blog. In addition, many of the extensions released with version 0.18, such as the reading list, theme switcher, etc, aren't ready yet, since the extensions part of Bloo was revamped.

But we'll get there. The important thing is that it's working, and it's now public-domain.

Good night all.

Update: Talk about barely making it! I published this release post right at the stroke of midnight! Just noticed that. . .

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