Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Adventures with Subtext

As you know, last week, we set Courtney up with her own blog (

When Courtney came to be asking about setting up her own blog, the first thing I thought was "Hey, cool, now I get to play with SubText". I have considered moving my blog to SubText for some time, but I don't want to break my permalinks. I still think about it at least weekly, but haven't yet decided to do it. There are a couple of people who link to my blog, so moving would cause them problems.

Anyway, back on track (I'm digressing, here).

I went out and downloaded SubText, and ran through the web-based installer. Pretty painless process, actually. There were two manual steps, which isn't ideal, but is pretty close, and damn good for an open source fork of an open source project.

The first post was a breeze. I threw one up, to make sure everything worked. There's a pretty good out-of-the box experience with SubText.

Yesterday, we ran into our first real problem.

Courtney was trying to post an entry about her old job working with a collection agency. She's had longer posts than this one, and has posted several since she tried to post this one. This one post, though, just wouldn't work through the web interface. I finally downloaded and installed w.bloggar (which I don't particularly like), and got the post up there. The only problem was that the post lost all formatting. I told Courtney she would just have to edit the post through the web interface, to fix the formatting. No big deal.

Today, she contacted me because the editing wouldn't work either. Damn it. Now, I'm a bit frustrated. When I get frustrated, I try to talk to the boss. I emailed Phil Haack, and told him the problem. Literally, in 10 minutes, he had responded with the fix. 10 minutes. For a response from an open source software project. That is crazy unheard-of. No other open source project that I have encountered has that kind of response time.

So, here's the email Phil sent me:

I think I know the problem. It's been fixed in the next version. Here's the fix for you.

I believe this is an issue with a ReverseDOS.config (in the webroot) setting. I added the isRegex attribute like so:

<directory pattern="/admin/"
isRegex="true" />

Works for me now.

Let me know if this fixes the problem.

Now, Courtney can totally edit the post, and has done so, happily.

I'm really impressed with the SubText project, and with the responsiveness of Philhimself. Thanks, Phil, for both a great product, and a great user support experience.

I do have a couple of nit-picky little things I'd like to see in the next version, though. Phil, if you're listening, I created feature requests for both on your sourceforge site. Feel free to bump the priority up to 10 on my two requests.

  1. Ability to subscribe to posts. Particularly, I'd like to be able to check a box somewhere so that any time someone posted a comment to the blog, I (as the owner) was sent an email. It'd be nice if users could also choose to subscribe to particular posts, and get email notifications when they were commented on.
  2. Preview for the skins. Right now, if I'm not sure what skin I want to use, I have to edit the skin choice in the admin section, then go back to the blog page, and refresh to see the changes. And, anyone who is reading the blog while I'm doing this gets a confusing experience, since the template might change several times before I settle on one. My wife likes to redecorate a lot, so I see her blog template changing weekly. It's already changed once, and she's only had the blog a week.

Thanks again, Phil, for your help today.


Courtney said...

Good God. Do you think your had enough links in that post?

Love you! Thanks for your help with that whole thing. I was getting pretty frustrated.

Haacked said...

Thanks for the review and the feature request.

One of my motivations in starting Subtext was all the frustrations I had and others had with installing .TEXT. That's why I made the installation procedure and unifying the configuration a priority.

Sorry your wife had the frustrations. Unfortunately we don't have a QA team yet. ;)

Cullen Waters said...

No problem. She was happy to get a happy resolution, as you can see from her comments.

SubText has a QA team, it's just an ad-hoc, highly distributed team. Us.