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Tinderbox Users >> Tinderbox applications >> Why/Why not Tinderbox as blog publishing platform?
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Message started by Charles Starrett on Aug 31st, 2008, 2:39am

Title: Why/Why not Tinderbox as blog publishing platform?
Post by Charles Starrett on Aug 31st, 2008, 2:39am

(After writing this post I realized that there is material in here that may be offensive to MarkB's sensibilities re: writing for the web.  So Mark, beware!  ;-)

Just for background: I'm pretty comfortable with Tinderbox and from time-to-time have used it to publish HTML pages and sites, but I'm now thinking more seriously about an experiment with more "professional" blogging.  In other words, rather than only a blog for my mother to read, I'd like to try to build a community (yes, with comments!), SEO optimization etc.

The thing is, as I look into it more, I don't understand what advantages a site generated by Movable Type, WordPress, and the like would have over a static site generated directly from Tinderbox templates. For example: I can use a service like Disqus (disqus.com) for comments, and duplicate most basic "plugin" functionality in template and agent coding.  Given that I have only the most rudimentary understanding of databases and SQL, I'd feel more "in control" of my blog if it were entirely generated from Tinderbox. In addition, the site would be fast because it would be served as static pages (assuming that the commenting service didn't hold up the loading).

The only limitations of a Tinderbox-generated blog that I can think of are that I could only publish from my machine (not an issue) and I couldn't have co-authors.  Given the output flexibility of Tinderbox, it seems that if I wanted to add an additional author to my blog down the road, I could migrate over to a web-based, database-driven platform at that time.

So...

After that long-winded exposition, does anyone who has chosen one way or another on a blogging platform have any advice?  (I'm open for recommending a particular platform if you have reasons to back up your recommendation!)

Thanks in advance for your help.  I've spent days crawling through the InterTubes and haven't come out any wiser than when I went in...

~~Charles in Seattle

Title: Re: Why/Why not Tinderbox as blog publishing platform?
Post by russ lipton on Aug 31st, 2008, 3:04am

You could even have co-authors if they emailed their posts to Tinderbox first  ;)

Title: Re: Why/Why not Tinderbox as blog publishing platform?
Post by Jack Baty on Aug 31st, 2008, 8:26am

I continue to struggle with this exact issue. I love the idea of having my blogging history all wrapped up nicely in Tinderbox. That's where I create all of my content anyway, so it makes sense. And I've no doubt that if I tried hard enough I could mimic many of the features of the dedicated blogging platforms such as Wordpress or Movable Type. The difference for me is that I don't want to try that hard. I don't want to design my site or tinker too much with layout, templates, etc. Using Flint is an option, but the output templates and CSS need a lot of work before they're good enough to actually use, for me anyway.

As much as I love tinkering with Tinderbox I just want to quickly publish my blog. I've used nearly every platform imaginable, Movable Type, ExpressionEngine, Blosxom and even Tinderbox for a while. I'm now on Wordpress and it's really a very capable and easy to manage platform. Literally 5 minutes and you're up and running. Then pick a theme from the hundreds available and you're good to go. Wordpress has a large community of contributors and plugin authors so everything is extendable.

And yet, I still circle the idea of going back to using Tinderbox for blogging. Especially now that we can use notes as export templates, which simplifies things a bit. For now though, I'll be gathering, brainstorming and writing in Tinderbox, then pasting into Wordpress for publishing.



Title: Re: Why/Why not Tinderbox as blog publishing platform?
Post by russ lipton on Aug 31st, 2008, 11:50am

Jack: I assume you know you can post directly from Tinderbox into WordPress?

(Alas, the posting of a note's date is broken due to api changes, but Mark has indicated enhancements to Tinderbox-weblog integration are coming)

Also, have you tried moblogging from Tinderbox to Wordpress?

I have experimented successfully with sending emails from Tinderbox notes to Wordpress as posts; as well from Tinderbox to ExpressionEngine. This can be done in reverse, creating a rough-and-ready channel to synchronize content between both. Each side of the communication can be automated or nearly automated.

Finally, it is convenient, using an ExpressionEngine extension, to export notes from Tinderbox directly into EE by creating comma-delimited export files from Tinderbox and uploading them to EE. This can preserve mappings between Tinderbox attributes and EE custom fields.

Whether it is simpler/wiser to do one's blogging in Tinderbox or another app is a stickier question.

Title: Re: Why/Why not Tinderbox as blog publishing platform?
Post by Jack Baty on Aug 31st, 2008, 12:10pm

Russ, thanks for the suggestions. I may try posting to Wordpress directly from Tinderbox at some point, assuming the integration improves somewhat. I currently use MarsEdit to assemble posts after writing them in Tinderbox. It would be tough pulling me away from MarsEdit!

I imagine my workflow won't change much unless I actually decide to use Tinderbox *as* my blog rather than for posting *to* it.

Title: Re: Why/Why not Tinderbox as blog publishing platform?
Post by Mark Bernstein on Aug 31st, 2008, 1:14pm

Stepping off my customary soapboxes for a moment, I think much depends on whether what you want is, exactly, a blog.

It's possible to replicate in a Tinderbox-based blog much of what WordPress or MT will give you. In that case, there may be great reasons to prefer one to another, or it may be a coin toss.

But sometimes what you want is blog-like, but not quite a blog. In that case, Tinderbox gives you a lot of extra flexibility!  For example:

* If you want to link lots of posts together, Tinderbox gives you terrific tools.

* If tags or categories are central to your vision, Tinderbox's automation is really important.  Otherwise, the time will come when you're too busy writing to add metadata, and soon the categories are ghost towns. A great new discussion of this by Jim Coyer: http://www.coyer.com/blog/2008/08/28/mark-bernstein-on-roger-ebert/

* Anders Fagerjord had a great idea for blogging, in which the layout and typography of each post was adapted to that particular post.  Most blog engines would hate this, but it can be straightforward in Tinderbox.

* Tinderbox is a unique tool for experimental information architecture; if your navigation scheme changes a lot, Tinderbox is your friend.





Title: Re: Why/Why not Tinderbox as blog publishing platform?
Post by Charles Starrett on Sep 1st, 2008, 12:50am

Wow!  Lots to think about already!  Thanks to Russ, Jack, and Mark for all this advice.  (A special "thank you" to Mark for stepping off the soapbox for a post.  Your particular opinions -- and the rationale behind them -- regarding blogs have authored one of the constant voices in my head as I work out what it is exactly that I want to do.)

The thread so far exemplifies my dilemma: if I want to focus on writing sooner, rather than futzing, then I should commit to a turnkey solution. On the other hand, the flexibility which Tinderbox offers as well as my rather antiquated aversion to having the primary instance of my blog "live" on a machine out in the cloud, both make me hesitate to go with a database-driven tool.  Hmm...

One thing I hadn't realized is the automated category-creation capability.  I will certainly explore that more.  Thanks!

UPDATE: I was hoping Jim Coyer talked about the how a bit, but yes, I agree with him that your Ebert page is a good example of how a little extra flexibility (being able to add in some introductory text) can turn a tag/category archive page into something a little more meaningful.  This is probably possible to do in something like WordPress, but Tinderbox makes it a lot more natural.

Title: Re: Why/Why not Tinderbox as blog publishing platform?
Post by Jim Coyer on Sep 3rd, 2008, 12:40am

Interesting thread already.  Jack, I used for awhile MT, then migrated my blog to WordPress, then transferred it to Tinderbox, then back to WordPress.  Now I want to go back to Tinderbox. I have a few reasons, which might be useful to list here:
  • Upgrading my blog to the latest version of WordPress somehow broke all of my categories and now I have a lot of cruft.  
  • I thought I would want to do more integration with easy plug in things (Flickr applets, etc), but in the end, I really don't.  I just want to write articles.
  • I end up not posting entries not because I don't have pictures, but because I don't write.  The main thing is writing, and I just forget to have ecto (the posting program I used) running, and I get busy, and I forget
  • I envy Mark's blog on several layers and want to copy it! (The format, the movie reviews, the auto categories.  Somehow Mark finds a way to use Tinderbox; I ought to be able to as well
  • I used to think I needed to be able to post from other computers, but I don't really.  I use the same Mac anyway.
  • Probably most importantly: If I wanted to push the envelope and try something, it's probably in exactly the sort of thing Mark is investing in anyway, like Containers that can calculate summary or snapshot information about its contained notes, or sparklines.  I find myself being more interested in emergence than anything else, and really this is the whole subtext (as I read it anyway) of Tinderbox: get the ideas down, and then see what patterns emerge.


I'm starting to conclude that Tinderbox has a way of making the ideas central and de-coupling organization and format from those ideas (whose atomic units are notes).  And that seems more compelling to me than all of the other decorations that are coupled with the ideas in other systems.  So I know that I'll have to get better at the export templates in the short term, but it will be fun and interesting to work through that on the way to seeing what's next.

I think in writing this I've convinced myself I need to migrate the blog back to Tinderbox.  Here goes... ;)

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