RogerBW's Blog

Replacing Chronicle 25 December 2014

"It all looks different this morning!"

I've been using chronicle since I started this blog in January of this year, but the time has come to replace it.

I thought about modifying the code (it's distinctly cleaner than much of the Perl I come across) but in the end I wrote my own from scratch. So this blog is now being generated by aikakirja, named after the Finnish word for a chronicle.

  • My main concern was that the chronicle version in Debian/stable (4.6) has to rebuild the whole blog each time one adds or changes a page or a comment, and this takes some time. The latest version 5.x apparently does a bit better by storing page text in a database, but I wanted to rebuild only those pages which had been changed (by adding a comment, or a tag, etc.). The obvious way to do this was to store modification times and some content in a database. (And so I've been remembering SQL, which I haven't had to use for years.)

  • chronicle uses textile for comment markup (if it's installed), which isn't UTF8-clean, and for no apparent reason quite a few web browsers change entered text into non-ASCII smart quotes. And my commenters ought to be able to use foreign characters if they want to. (Not to mention, none of them has put in a textile markup sequence anyway, possibly because it's not advertised.) So that's been removed. Would markdown be interesting to commenters?

  • chronicle doesn't support emacs' org-mode as an input format. Fixed. (emacs documentation writers mostly don't think you should be able to do things on the command line, because you should be doing them from within emacs, so that took some finding.)

  • The cross-references feature doesn't work the way I expect it to, or with the template I like. Fixed. (And you can insert cross-references to posts that aren't in the blog yet, and they'll appear once those later posts are published.)

  • The ordering of comments is based on file modification date, not any internally-stored date – not even the one in the filename. Fixed.

  • The font size used for the various entries in the tag cloud is based on absolute numbers of posts including that tag, so tags tend to get bigger as the overall number of posts increases. Fixed.

  • There's now an RSS feed for all comments everywhere on the blog (/comments.rss) in case you want to keep up with everything rather than watching individual posts. It's not so high-volume that this should present problems.

  • URLs should be unchanged from the chronicle version of the site.

There are doubtless still bugs, most of them likely to be connected to insufficient paranoia about rebuilding pages that might have been changed by action elsewhere. If anything breaks, let me know. Source code will be released once it's been tidied up a bit.

A merry Christmas to all my readers.


  1. Posted by John Dallman at 10:17pm on 25 December 2014

    Looks good to me. Some kind of markup would be nice, and markdown looks quite reasonable.

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