Alleged Entertainment

Blog moved!

As you might have noticed from the black bar across the top of the screen, I've moved this blog from being hosted on proper to being hosted by Blogger.  This means a few things, none of them particularly major:
  1. The address is no longer, it's now  I'm putting up a message at to direct people to the right place.
  2. Comments should work again.  Please God.
  3. Now that it's no longer a huge pain in the ass to make new posts, we'll hopefully be doing it more often.
  4. RSS subscribers will have to change their feed URL.  I'm going to be putting up a message on the feed that will let them know that.
  5. The LiveJournal feed is probably broken now.  I can't remember who set it up to begin with, but I'm emailing a couple of likely candidates to try and get it pointed at the new URL.
So, why the move?  Details after the jump.

First, some history.

The main Alleged Entertainment site is hosted on a CMS called Radiant.  In general I've been pretty happy with Radiant - it does what it promises to do, and mostly does it decently.  When we decided to start a blog, it seemed natural to build it using Radiant, since we already had that up and running.

Well, Radiant isn't a blogging platform.  It's a minimalist CMS.  In order to make it behave like a blog, you need to do a bunch of hacks.  These are mostly reasonable although a bit of hassle to set up initially, but comments turned out to be a huge sticking point.  The radiant-comments extension, at the time, was not very fully developed, and turned out to have some bugs.  Most annoyingly, although the blog owner could be notified of new comments by email, nobody else could be.

To make matters worse, posting on the "blog" was never particularly easy.  Users had to create a new "page" under the blog folder, which became difficult to manage after awhile, and the way to do jumps inside a post wasn't particularly clear either.  There were also a bunch of mysterious-looking dropdown menus which had to be given the proper settings, most of which made sense for a page on a CMS but not a blog post.

Then, one time when I tried to upgrade Radiant, comments just broke entirely.  This might have been due to modifications on my side, I'm not really sure.  In any case, I decided to move the comment system over to DISQUS, a third-party hosted comment system.  This seemed to work OK for a time, but mysteriously broke a month or two ago.

Basically, the entire time we've had this blog running, I was doing the easy, expedient thing at the time, rather than the right thing.  This move is an attempt to change that.

I Need Drew's Truck

One of the worst things about building your own blog platform, as I essentially did, is that you're totally on your own when you try to move to a different system.  Blogger does have an import feature, but I couldn't find any docs on what format it expects (judging from the export files, it seems to be an extension of Atom, but who knows...).

Even if I could have gotten an export from Radiant that Blogger would accept, I still wouldn't have been able to import the comments.  I could have probably written a script to call out to DISQUS's developer API and grab them, but since all the links between posts and comment threads are currently broken, it would have been really tricky to get those back in place...

I did the simple, stupid thing.  I copy and pasted every post from the old blog onto here.

Of course, it didn't totally work right.  Two things, in particular, couldn't really be done manually:
  1. All the old posts now appear to have been made by me (because on this blog, they were).  I've added the original author's name first thing in the body of each post, in bold.
  2. The comments had to be imported by hand, and I couldn't figure out a way to do that as comments per se.  So now there's a section at the bottom of many old posts with the heading "Comments imported from DISQUS", with old-blog comments underneath.
The good news is, going forward, both authorship and comments should work fine on Blogger - better than before, hopefully.

Lesson Learned

I cannot stress this enough.  DO NOT BUILD YOUR OWN BLOGGING PLATFORM JUST TO WRITE ONE BLOG WITH.  It is not fun.  It caused me a lot of pain I didn't expect.

There are a lot of good blogging solutions out there.  Might I recommend Blogger?  Wordpress is also good.  Or really, anything.

I'm not saying nobody should write new blogging software.  But if you start at "I need a blog" and end up at "I need to write a new platform for writing a blog," you just might be shaving a yak.

1 comment:

  1. The new blog looks good now that you've fixed the css thing. Let's see if this shows up as a comment on the main page.