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Entries posted in December 2012

Reassessing what I want from a simple website creation tool

1 December 2012 21:50

Thanks very much to everybody who commented, both publicly and privately, on my previous entry.

To recap: I have three sites that were each generated by slightly different templating software I'd built and tweaked over the years. I was frustrated that the three copies of the generation tool had all drifted and diverged from each other, and was looking to setup a new (static) site.

The obvious conclusion was either:

  • Unify the creation tool I used, such that all four sites could be generated by a single tool.
  • Avoid the pain of doing that, and suffer through a process of using a well-maintained tool maintained by somebody else. ("Suffer" because tags would be different, and the layout/template syntax would change.)

I'd cheerfully decided to go down the second route, because life is short. But after having quick reads, then spending several hours investigating likely contenders I kept finding reasons why they weren't suitable.

Today I reworked my tool to succesfully generate each of the three sites. That was less annoying than expected, after I'd decided "I'll have to change my templates anyway, when I switch to a real tool".

So in the interests of sharing I placed my tool online, and wrote documentation:

This is not a U-turn. This is not a commitment to avoid the investigation of real replacements. This is just something I had to do as a cleanup and to make sure I fully understood exactly what my requirements were.

In conclusion: My requirements are now absolutely known, fixed, and understood. I still firmly intend and expect to migrate to something by the end of the year. Ideally something that will make tag pages, RSS feeds, and other clever things easy.

(Getting rid of literal shell usage in my templates, and unifying the way I auto-generate galleries via file globs was a useful change in its own regard - I always felt slightly dirty..)

Lookout for more summaries and reviews of specific tools when I've had the chance to relax and start looking again.

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December 2012 Software Updates

6 December 2012 21:50

Some brief software updates:

Custodian

This is the monitoring tool I wrote for Bytemark. It still rocks, and has run over 10 million tests without failure.

I'd love more outside feedback, even if just to say "documentation needs work".

Slaughter

This is my sysadmin tool for multiple hosts - consider it cfengine-lite, or cfengine-trivial more likely.

The 2.x release is finally out, and features pluggable transports. That means your central server can be running HTTP, RSYNC, FTP, or anything you like.

90% of the changes came from or were inspired by Csillag Tamas, to whom I owe a debt of thanks.

Templer

A static-site generator, written in Perl.

I use this to generate blogspam.net, and other sites from simple layouts. Tutorial available online.

redis-document-store

A trivial hack which allows using Redis as a schema-less document storage system.

Assuming you never delete documents it is simple, transparent, and already in live use for Debian Administration

Random Comment on Templer:

Although I've made extensive notes on common static site generators, and they will be discussed at length in the near future, I do want to highlight one problem common to 90% of them: Symbolic links.

For example webgen fails my simple test:

~/hg/websites$ webgen create test.example.com
~/hg/websites$ cd test.example.com/src/

~/hg/websites/test.example.com/src$ mkdir jquery-1.2.3
~/hg/websites/test.example.com/src$ touch jquery-1.2.3/jquery.js
~/hg/websites/test.example.com/src$ ln -s jquery-1.2.3 jquery

~/hg/websites/test.example.com$ webgen
Starting webgen...
...
Finished
~/hg/websites/test.example.com$ ls out/  | grep jq
jquery-1.2.3

Here we see creating a symlink to a directory has not produced a matching symlink in the output. Something I use frequently. for example.

Some tools mangled symlinked directories, or files, some ignore them completely. Neither is acceptible.

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Is there a ACL system for "all" revision control systems?

16 December 2012 21:50

Once upon a time a company started using distributed version control, and setup several project repositories using darcs.

Over time people became more sane and new projects were created in mercurial.

Later still Git became available, and was used by a few of the brave.

Sadly each of these projects is hosted on the same host, and in the home directory of the same user. This means these two commands work:

hg clone ssh://projects@dev.host/foo

git clone ssh://projects@dev.host/bar

I'm now wanting to setup per-repository ACLs and have hit a problem...

There are several git-wrappers such as gitolite and gitosis. There is also the excellent hg-gateway and mercurial-server for dealing with mercurial.

However I've yet to find a wrapper which will handle both git & mercurial repositories, under the same UID. (+ Darcs too, of course).

So my question - is there such a beast out there, or do we need to write it? I expect such a thing would be useful for many people, so I'm surprised I've not yet found it.

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More polish for slaughter

29 December 2012 21:50

A couple of days ago I made a new release of slaughter, to add a new primitive I was sorely missing:

if ( 1 != IdenticalContents( File1 => "/etc/foo" ,
                             File2 => "/etc/bar" ) )
{
   # do something because the file contents differ
}

This allows me to stop blindly over-writing files if they are identical already.

As part of that work I figured I should be more "visible", so on that basis I've done two things:

After sanity-checking my policies I'm confident I'm not leaking anything I wish to keep private - but there is some news being disclosed ;)

Now that is done I think there shouldn't be any major slaughter-changes for the forseeable future; I'm managing about ten hosts with it now, and being perl it suits my needs. The transport system is flexible enough to suit most folk, and there are adequate facilities for making local additions without touching the core so if people do want to do new things they don't need me to make changes - hopefully.

ObQuote: "Yippee-ki-yay" - Die Hard, the ultimate Christmas film.

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Template systems redux.

30 December 2012 21:50

People seemed interested in my mini-reviews of static-site generators.

I promised to review more in the future, and so to shame myself into doing so I present:

As you can see I've listed my requirements, and I've included a project for each of the tools I've tested.

I will continue to update as I go through more testing. As previously mentioned symlink-handling is the thing that kills a lot of tools.

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