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Tinderbox Users >> Exporting from Tinderbox >> TB as Weblog / Static Site Generator

Message started by Simon on Dec 28th, 2013, 11:48am

Title: TB as Weblog / Static Site Generator
Post by Simon on Dec 28th, 2013, 11:48am

I'm beginning to use TB for just about everything. I'm wanting to change my Wordpress site and have been looking at Static Site Generators. I'm also wanting to be able to use TB to publish whatever I wish from within a document.

As I'm pretty new to TB can anyone point me in the right direction as to how to accomplish this? Does anyone have a TB file that is set up for a weblog? Is there a tutorial that will demonstrate how to use TB to create a website?

Many thanks


Title: Re: TB as Weblog / Static Site Generator
Post by Mark Anderson on Dec 28th, 2013, 1:30pm

Here, the devil is in the detail - in terms of your expectations for the HTML site. Having looked up SSGs they seem to be database -> static HTML exporters. If so, Tinderbox can do this but there's a fair amount of self-assembly.  The upside is you've a lot of control, the downside is there's no push-button UI for export as you have to define your own. In giving suggestions, it might help to know what level of demo you seek, e.f new to HTML vs export in HTML but not TB export. The former to a full figured SSG-like export is a big but not impossible climb. The latter is probably a matter of knowing which controls to use. Meanwhile, here are three non-trivial examples of TBX document -> HTML export:
  • Mark Bernstein's blog. The site layout is not overly complex although the pages themselves have a lot of constructional complexity.
  • Ted Goranson's blog. [Disclaimer - I helped Ted in a consulting role to implement his design]. Here, a single blog outputs five discrete but interlinked websites - some sub-domains of the main domain and the others on discrete domains. They do so whilst re-using a single set of export templates. This is probably the most complex TB export I've seen (at the TB end). Some sites also include Disqus commenting, as an example of using dynamic includes from other sources.
  • My aTbRef. You can get the source TBX for this which has all the export templates. The site exports some 2.5k discrete pages primarily via one HTML template with a series of conditional includes. The TBX includes all the templates as an un documented tutorial - although aTbRef itself documents the individual codes used. As well as static pages, the site outputs a full HTML, an XML sitemap (disabled by default - size!), RSS and Atom feeds, and two discrete update reporters (new version, and site update within version)
By way of expectation management, I'd say one thing a few folk seem to expect - and which is not generally possible (except via limited workarounds) - is to export a note to a discrete page in a location (disk folder) other than it's location in the TBX outline structure. Also, as at TB v5.x you can export maps and timelines with any ease. Taking a different approach, TB -> timeline is possible using MIT's SIMILE Timeline, an example of this is Alex's Strick's Kandahar timeline [Disclaimer - I helped Alex in a consulting role to implement the TBX for one-click export].

I hope that give you some things to calibrate any questions you may have. Very happy to answer any questions arising!

Title: Re: TB as Weblog / Static Site Generator
Post by Simon on Jun 23rd, 2014, 5:53am

Just wanted to ask if this has changed with TB6?

I'm wanting to create a wiki online of some of my notes. I'm debating whether to do this with TB or Voodoopad?

Any idea as to how TB6 would function in this role?

Title: Re: TB as Weblog / Static Site Generator
Post by Mark Anderson on Jun 23rd, 2014, 6:25am

I don't think this has changed for v6. Wikis don't use HTML except for display, so you'd likely want to set all your 'HTML' tags attributes to use wiki markup, unless you're going to write your posts in plain text only using wiki markup in the actual text. TinderWiki links aren't (yet?) implemented in v6 and anyway, such links aren't exported via HTML export but your wiki software should makes those links automatically based on CamelCase words.

Put a different way, TB is not a wiki front-end editor.

Title: Re: TB as Weblog / Static Site Generator
Post by Simon on Jun 23rd, 2014, 6:27am

Thanks Mark,

With Voodoopad I can just export the whole lot to html and post online.

Title: Re: TB as Weblog / Static Site Generator
Post by Mark Anderson on Jun 23rd, 2014, 8:49am

Export to HTML? Sure, so can Tinderbox, but i think we need to clarify what you mean by the term 'wiki'. I've not used Voodoopad but looking at the document the term 'wiki' is being used in a fairly loose manner. A wiki I understand to be something more like Wikipedia; leave aside size/complexity of the latter - it's a website anyone can edit (or in some cases via password access) and which is stored in a database. There are mini-wiki variants like TiddlyWiki that use one, or very few documents, instead of a database to store the data. However to give a sensible answer to your question it would help to know what sort of wiki you mean - best if you could link to an example so we can see the type.

I'm not sure Voodoopad exports a wiki as such - rather it refers in documentation as to the Voodoopad own data doc as being wiki-like. I thus suspect it's simply exporting a set of interlinked static HTML pages which is exactly what TB can easily do.

Title: Re: TB as Weblog / Static Site Generator
Post by Mark Anderson on Jun 23rd, 2014, 9:04am

Try this demo. The demo was originally written in v5 but I've checked it over for v6 - testing in v6.0.1. The only point of the demo is to show basic HTML export in action.

Open each of the TBXs in turn and follow the instructions. Look at what is exported to give you some ideas as to the range of basic possibilities. Much more complex things are possible, but at this point that simply over complicates the learning/understanding process.

Title: Re: TB as Weblog / Static Site Generator
Post by Simon on Jun 23rd, 2014, 10:50am

Hi Mark,

I apologise for my lack of clarity.

I'm looking at writing some notes on various subjects that interlink. I then want to publish this online as a personal site. It does not need multiple editors. It just needs to retain links from one note to another.

It's also important to be able to update the site as the notes grow.

The idea behind the wiki is that the notes are all about the Bible and therefore many subjects interlink. I need this interlinking.

Title: Re: TB as Weblog / Static Site Generator
Post by Mark Anderson on Jun 23rd, 2014, 12:09pm

In which case TB can certainly do that. Whether it is the tool, for you to do this task, may need teasing out. With TB export some self-assembly is required. That offers choice, though some find it comes at the cost of more/effort learning than they have to commit. Sitting aside, I think it partly boils down an honest reflection on one's own tendency for instant gratification or not. If 'one-click' and something good-enough results, TB - for export features alone - might seem too heavy a tool. However, TB can yield nuance albeit with a bit more effort up front; all the TB sites quoted up thread are now one-click to publish - now their design is done. That 'effort' is measured in a degree of comfort with abstraction and web tech like HTML and style sheets. TB users run the gamut from professional coders to those who won't touch 'code' so you'll likely find voices to support all sorts of solutions.

You can work both ways at once. Use TB and the simple demo examples to make a stripped-back exportable set of data which can then be visually/functionally enhanced be improving the export templates. Most static page designs can be reversed back into Tinderbox templates.

Title: Re: TB as Weblog / Static Site Generator
Post by Simon on Jun 23rd, 2014, 5:28pm

Many thanks Mark,

I'm looking for a long term solution. I waste far too much time moving from one system to another. TB scares me a little. The interface doesn't exactly tell you where to go what to click on and so for, it just looks at you waiting for input!

I need to think this through and design it. Is TB any good at internal wiki type links?

Title: Re: TB as Weblog / Static Site Generator
Post by Mark Anderson on Jun 24th, 2014, 3:54am

What is your expectation of 'wiki type links' - I ask only as people's perceptions of this vary so it's better to be explicit as to meaning. TB5 had a TinderWiki feature. It isn't currently in v6. Likely this is because it is one of many little-used existing features that may get re-instituted if anyone comes forward expressing an ongoing needed for it.

All that said, linking to notes is trivially easy - as long as it can sometimes take to think up new contrived CamelCase words just to anchor an automatic wiki link (indeed VoodooPad has to have a 'alias' method to get around the same problem).

Before giving up, do please try the demo I linked to. It should indicate how easy it is to export all/some notes as one or more HTML files. Beyond that it is down to the user to decide what they want - one-size-fits-all please no none. If stuck as to how to implement things just ask here.

Some folk like very bare pages, some ornate. If in the latter camp, you my find it easy to start the template design process with a fixed page design you like and then deconstruct it into a TB template.

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