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Blogging in TWiki

Socialtext a start-up selling a customized Wiki like tool for in company collaboration has a neat feature: each page has a category, if the category name contains blog or weblog then the category becomes a blog. Adding pages is as simple as clicking on new blog post button.Combining blogging and TWiki would be really neat. We don't have to do it the socialtext way maybe a plugin is all that is needed?

See also http://www.socialtext.com/

-- HansVr - 22 Jan 2004

See Plugins.DiscussionForumAddOn . Works quite well. In order to have a single click you need direct save from view (ie have a form in a page and then a save button). I've got that working quite nicely, and running a blog type system using it is pretty trivial. (especially when combined with the Plugins.UniqueIdPlugin and Plugins.CommentPlugin. Using NamedIncludeSections also means that pulling in the short summary that you normally get is trivial and accurate.)

-- MS - 22 Jan 2004

A while back I created a quasi-weblog TWikiApplication which works quite nicely for me. You can see it in action on my personal wiki. I've been meaning to package it up as a AddOnPackage but wanted to redesign it first (see my notes for that here). It's also built on top of a topic classification application that I want to post first (soon).

-- LynnwoodBrown - 11 Oct 2004

Hey Lynwood, that looks neat smile

This will be a nice LegoBlock for TWiki, and increase its appeal! Especially with your planned redesign.

  • Thanks! -- LB - 12 Oct 2004

Date based topic names (like JohnsBlog20180131024414) hidden behind headings make sense. They ASCII-sort nicely too.

-- PeterThoeny - 12 Oct 2004

I am not so fond of the metadata stored in the topics. To see that, go to comment on any of the blog entries. The topic has much unfriendly markup. I think it would be better to use the SectionalEditPlugin in this situation. The latter could also be leveraged to avoid having to create topics for each blog entry.

  • I agree with you about the metadata. That set-up was a kind of interim hack to my initial design to make it easier to create WebLogLinkList. Moving that info to a WebForm will remove need for cluttering topic with metadata. That being said, I have found myself wondering about situations where is might make more sense to put such metadata in the topic rather than cluttering up the WebForm which takes up more visual space in view mode. I might want to continue this thread of inquiry under NonWebFormMetaData. See further notes below regarding single vs multiple entries per topic. -- LB - 12 Oct 2004

-- ThomasWeigert - 12 Oct 2004

Here's another one purely based on the CommentPlugin. This one is based on a rather simple commment type but each channel has its own style sheets. Pictures are taken from /. The NatsWiki DiscussionChannels are complemented by the HeadlinesPlugin that I improved a little. See for example the BadMouthHumorFeed

-- MichaelDaum - 12 Oct 2004

Thanks for the feedback. Some comments inserted above.

Michael - Wow! What a great looking site and weblog set up! Will you be packaging that skin? I hope so as I would put money on it being very popular! Also, I like many of the design details like how you present newsfeeds. I'm going to be shamelessly studying what you've done to emulate it.

Following up on Thomas' feedback above and comparing Michael's and my approaches to a TWiki-based weblog, one design consideration I have gone back and forth on is whether to have a new topic for each weblog entry or group multiple entries in a single topic. Here's some of the options I've considered:

  • All entries in single weblog topic. This was the first approach I tried but quickly dropped it due to:
    1. Very limited options to extract data from single entries.
    2. The weblog topic soon got too big and archiving had to be done manually.
  • Single entry per topic with discussion - this is the option I've favored primarily because it seemed to me to offer the most flexibility (given current TWiki architecture) in grouping weblog entries in different ways (such as by subject) and extracting metadata from individual entries such as I did with WebLogLinkList.
  • Group entries by day in topic - I've contemplated this option but haven't figured out how to do it. What attracts me to this is that it reflects the setup of many traditional weblog applications. I envision an approach that creates a new weblog topic for the day if it doesn't exist but subsequently appends that same topic with addition entries for same day. I also haven't figured how to deal with comments in this scenario. Also it raises questions about extracting metadata for individual entries and points back to my inquiry about when it might make sense to incorporate quasi-metadata within a topic.

Obviously, this whole discussion pivots around earlier discussions I remember seeing elsewhere (but am too lazy to search for at present) about "micro-content." At the time, I didn't see what the big deal was. Now I'm beginning to get it.

I'd welcome any further thoughts on all this as it might influence my next round of design.

-- LynnwoodBrown - 12 Oct 2004

Thanks for the flowers wink Concerning packaging, well this is pure laziness (or lack of time) ... But I'll package the stuff I've got in separate plugins 'n patches. Unfortunately I had to patch on Beijing to get it do what I want. Maybe when I release some of that stuff someone could help out porting things to Cairo, i.e. the cache and https. Most of the extras are one big NatSkinPlugin... part of which is a %FILTER% macro one could use to extract a defined part of a topic using regexes and sprintfs: syntax %FILTER{text="..."|topic="..." pattern="..." format="..." maxhits="..." skip="..."}%. Either you filter a text (generated by another macro, e.g. %INCLUDE%) or you take topic. url could be fun aswell. Nesting in text isn't there yet, nor is skip. maxhits and skip could both be negative to get the first/last x hits, skipping the first/last y hits. The major difference to =

Warning: Can't find topic ""."" = and pattern is that you get a series of hits, not just one, like with %SEARCH%. Formatted search is limited the same way. Using this macro extracting overviews from weblogs will be much easier. Anyway, concerned LynnwoodBrown 's third proposal (one topic per day), I'd propose one topic per unit that you wanna archive, i.e. a month which is a very common thing.

-- MichaelDaum - 12 Oct 2004

Intriquing concept about FILTER macro. I hope to see more on that. That would represent significant step towards addressing my question about extracting micro-content. On that subject, I did a bit of searching and found the discussion I was thinking of in FineGrainedAddressing. It's not exactly the same thing but seems related. Also, related to my comments about how to deal with comments on entries, I re-discovered BulletDiscussion which I want to revisit. However, lacking these features, I still lean towards single-entry-per-topic.

-- LynnwoodBrown - 12 Oct 2004

While both blog apps are very nice, I would have gone a different route:

  • A blog is just a simplified version of a threaded discussion application, where the depth of the discussion is limited to 1. That is, you have only one level of discussion thread, and cannot root a discussion on an individual topic. Designing a threaded discussion application and imposing the depth limit would be a much more flexible approach.
  • Then, architecturally, a blog is a TWikiApplication. It has data that it operates which is separate from the data of the wiki application which may or may not share the same topic. Blog data is highly structured: it is a sequence of entries with title, date, author, text, and maybe some more. The blog application should store that data in the way it is most suitable for the application, which I would think is a (conceptual) table with one row for each blog entry, where the columns are the different data elements representing a complete entry. (Of course, you can interpret a twiki topic as such a row in a conceptual table, but there might be much more fitting representations.) If you stored the data appropriately, the %FILTER macro would be trivial.

Please see TWikiWhatWillYouBeWhenYouGrowUp for some more discussion on TWikiApplications and the storage of their data.

-- ThomasWeigert - 13 Oct 2004

Thomas - I must admit that I don't understand much of what you say above, except perhaps what I sense is your main points:

  • Weblogs are merely a TWikiApplication. Agreed. That was my primary motivation in sharing my attempt at a weblog, however basic. I'm hoping lot's more examples are presented to show how flexible TWiki really is.
  • That having a more "fine-grained" data model would give us more power in tailoring such applications, whatever approach we may favor. Agreed. Being a non-coder, I'm just trying to make the most of the system as it exist...while offering occasional wish-list items for what I see as possible.

On that topic, I applaud your efforts in TWikiWhatWillYouBeWhenYouGrowUp to figure out a new level of synergy between the traditional wiki "whiteboard" model and TWiki-as-application platform. Somewhere down that road lies TWiki's destiny, me thinks!

-- LynnwoodBrown - 13 Oct 2004

Here is my implementation of a date based blog (sorry, it's in german). Basically the idea is very similar to the ones named above. Simply append the signature with a string e.g.

and a search pattern that includes recent comments on the blog's main page. Comments for a blog's entry go all in one topic but may also be nested.

-- MatthiasWientapper - 26 Oct 2004

From looking at your site it appears that you have a linear blog. If someone wants to comment on an entry, a new topic is created and users would have to later go there to read the comments.

-- ThomasWeigert - 27 Oct 2004

Exactly. This is a very simple and pretty much straight forward approach without the needs of any additional plugins. Via INCLUDE{} comments could also be included directly into the main blog stream.

-- MatthiasWientapper - 28 Oct 2004

I've finally packaged up my implementation of BlogginInTWiki. It can be found at TopicClassificationAddOnDev#WebLog.

-- LynnwoodBrown - 13 Jan 2005

As an example of blogging, a category based approach may work, like in Movable Type and other weblogs. Articles are listed by category, and comments append onto individual articles.

As an example, I ported Movable Type to write to a TWiki Web. Articles are posted to the blog main page, or to a separate category. Each category has the articles titles and a short intro with a "read more" link that takes you to a separate page for the topic and comments.

MovableTWiki In the menu is the Blog main page, MT category and article list...is experimental and under construction, but am working on it to see where it leads...

-- BruceRProchnau - 05 Feb 2005

Bruce, this is quite an impressive tool you are describing. Can you make this available as MTAddOn?

-- ThomasWeigert - 07 Feb 2005

Thomas, It is in the early stages at present, and I am working on simplifying and organizing it all. Also checking as to what purpose it serves if any.

Finally got the idea to make it an addon, not completely integrated. This way it is a blog incorporated into twiki, yet separated sort of. That seems the best way. It uses all the features of TWiki and adds the features of Movable Type as well.

-- BruceRProchnau - 18 Feb 2005

Very interesting, Bruce.

  • I note you talk of moveable type licence when mentioning multiple blogs. Can you briefly summarise the situation for us? I'm keen on wordpress because its great and because it is "free as a bird".
  • I like your intent to make it MS Word compatible - cut and paste is such a ubiquitous tool that breaking it the way wikis do detracts many users.

-- MartinCleaver - 18 Feb 2005

From Six Apart's website on licences:

  • For your own use, not supporting a business, You can download an unsupported version of Movable Type for free. You're limited to 1 author and 3 weblogs. This includes organizations not for profit.
  • Basic personal Licence, up to 5 authors and unlimited weblogs- $69.00.
  • 1-5 user commercial license- $200.00.
  • Educational org licences from $40.00 up.
There are more in between , these are the basics. Also, on their FAQ:

Q: May I modify the Movable Type source code?

A:Yes, as long as you do not redistribute the modified code without permission. In addition, if you modify any of the code and feel that your changes would be useful to all Movable Type users, we encourage you to make your work available to the community of users by sharing it on our developer plug-ins site.

Q: If I come up with a hack or modification of the Movable Type source code, may I distribute it on my website?

A: Yes, as long as you make it clear that we will not be able to support the modification. While we encourage and are delighted to see hacks develop, we will not provide support for problems that arise by code not originating from us.

That about covers it. I am contacting them today for permission to release the code for this. It isn't so much mods in source code as it is changing the tags, templates, and paths to write in "twiki friendly mode", and .

I am reinstalling Word 2000 today to check into integration...

I have installed Wordpress a number of times and do like it. Still have it actually, but Movable Type writes static files to the webserver, and updates them on changes. It can also be configured to publish txt files instead of php or html as well. That lies at the heart of the integration, MT publishing .txt files into data/Webname. I'm not up to the challenge and complexity of trying this with Wordpress and php wink

-- BruceRProchnau - 18 Feb 2005

At a quick glance it looks like this guy has done the other half of the work! http://www.zylstra.org/blog/archives/001390.html - perhaps you can take a look?!

-- MartinCleaver - 19 Feb 2005

Thanks for the tip Martin. Yes, he is adding a Wordpress php file into Wakka-Wiki, which seems to have forked and taken over by wikka. I tried installing but it was a problem so I installed Mediawiki instead. Both are php and could work with this plugin from Wordpress.

I may try it, but Movable Type seems a better and easier way though, as it integrates well with twiki. Besides its done wink Twiki handling php files is way over my head. MT is simple and easy, and BKDesign's slogan is:

Simplicity by Design

-- BruceRProchnau - 21 Feb 2005

Actually, after some study and working with this for quite a while now, I find Movable Type the easiest, simplest, and by far the best app for adding a blog to TWiki.It's features integrate very well.

-- BruceRProchnau - 04 Mar 2005

Shame wink I hoped you might feel compelled to get wordpress going. Were there particular things that made it hard?

-- MartinCleaver - 26 Mar 2005

Lynnwood's plugin - mentioned on BlogForTWiki - is the pure TWiki solution. We'd welcome contribution for it.

-- MartinCleaver - 26 Mar 2005

I find it extremely strange that I developed a complete and total integration of Movable Type and twiki and have seen no interest whatsoever. The older I get the stranger the world becomes...

-- BruceRProchnau - 05 Apr 2005

Bruce there has been interest, albeit not from the core group where it has the most impact. Sadly that is often the case on twiki.org. The user group is quite diverse and the main developers often seem to be working in "parallel play" mode rather than team mode.

I suspect many here steer clear of MT because of it's licensing. A while ago you mentioned you might try WordPress + twiki integration. Did that just not prove to be worth the effort?

-- MattWilkie - 05 Apr 2005

Bruce - we both seem to have worked in "parallel mode" also. The NatSkin is based on MT's look-and-feel also. Have a look here. This site is online for quite some time now ...

-- MichaelDaum - 05 Apr 2005

Well Matt, I am not a php programmer, just able to make changes...MT was easy for me because of knowing its templating system and the fact that you can make a template publish anything, so a txt file into TWiki was a given. It processes the mt tags in the template, then sends it on into twiki.

I'm using Expression Engine presently, and it, like wordpress is php..Working on it tho. I have made new templates for twiki based on an EE one. movabletwiki For now I'll work with the MT integration.

Michael- I am just now at your site, it looks extremely interesting. I really like the design! Am going to explore it now. The mt thing I am talking about isn't a "look and feel" but a total integration where mt publishes into twiki and they share features. Not sure if its of much use aside from getting ideas tho wink

Looking over your site here... OK tried the natskin, don't work for me, which is nothing new wink

Nice work tho

-- BruceRProchnau - 07 Apr 2005

Pluggable authentication has recently been added (http://dev.webadmin.ufl.edu/~dwc/2005/03/02/authentication-plugins/) to WordPress. One implementation of the interface is BasicAuthentication:

In theory WordPress can now get its users from a .htaccess file and persist it with RemoteUser.

I'd be especially interested in hearing from anyone that has played with this in the context of sharing usernames and passwords with TWiki.

-- MartinCleaver - 18 Jun 2005


I've got a bliki site called KitchenTableMath that is devoted to math education in public schools. I've done a lot of custom TWiki development (okay, hacking) to fit our needs, but the original layout is based on Lynnwood's WebLog topictype.

We wanted a very communal experience for the site, and it has become very active. I reviewed a lot of (open-source) software, both blog and wiki, before selecting TWiki. In the end I chose it largely because it was quite fully featured -- supports attachments and math editing (although I haven't gotten latex2html debugged yet) -- and because the installation instructions were very clear. Good job.

CarolynJohnston - 17 Jul 2005

Carolyn, that is one awsome site. I hope you don't mind if I use it as an example at WikiMania!

CharleyQuinton has pointed out to me on irc:wikiproject, that the SchoolForge should know about it!

-- SvenDowideit - 18 Jul 2005

Hey, that's a really nice design Carolyn, I'm sure others would like to use and extend it.

I was a bit confused as to why you didn't have a set of PermaLink: You'd named it Comments... which is accurate but not what I was looking for!

Good work though. smile

-- MartinCleaver - 18 Jul 2005

Carolyn - Wanted to add my compliments on your site! I'm also delighted you could make use of TopicClassificationAddOn as a starting place to create your blog. That exactly how I intended it - as a foundation for folks to build on. Good job!

-- LynnwoodBrown - 18 Jul 2005

http://www.sixapart.com/pronet/docs/trackback_spec has a TrackBack spec and CPAN implementation


-- MartinCleaver - 19 Jul 2005

Thanks for the feedback! I've been struggling to make improvements, continue adding content to the blog, plus do my full time job, but I did get a lot of usability improvements in this week.

I'm not a big denizen of the blogosphere, so I'm sure there are a lot of standard implementation conventions I'm not using. Trackback and permalink are two biggies.

I also haven't coded in Perl for years, and would prefer not to do it at all -- but when I do dive into Perl again, it will be in order to debug latex2html so I can install the MathModePlugin. I'd love any ideas you guys have for improving the design.

Sven, I will check out your links, and by all means please add it to Wikimania!

Lynnwood, thanks for the inspiration. I've been looking forward to showing you the site. smile

-- CarolynJohnston - 19 Jul 2005

As an aside information : The Mandriva Club is opening a new wiki with blogs, built with xwiki (Posted at : http://www.xwiki.com/xwiki/bin/view/Blog/WebHome by LudovicDubost).

-- BenoitFauvel - 20 Aug 2005

These days I've been playing with TWiki and made a blog with TWiki. It is pretty initial, and interface elements are mostly in portuguese. I intend to package (and fully translate) it when I get some time:


-- AntonioTerceiro - 20 Aug 2005

We are setting up twiki blogs in our company. You can play with a demo at http://wikix.ilog.fr/wiki/bin/view/Test/TestBlog (email me to get an account). It runs on standard wiki, plus:

  • FormattedSearchRegexCountVariable
  • Ability to use preferences variables in topics (a must-have actually, for a lot of neat TWiki tricks)
  • a proxy shell script to cache the rss feed for performance

-- ColasNahaboo - 24 Aug 2005

Alright, here's a close WordPress / MovableType emulation on a dakar engine running the NatSkin: http://micha.wikiring.de

-- MichaelDaum - 17 Sep 2005

This topic needs to be refactored: DocumentMode part on top, followed by ThreadMode discussion.

-- PeterThoeny - 04 Sep 2006

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