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New blog software and Ikiwiki templates

Every time I read a blog post about a "blog having moved" or a "redesign", I swear to myself, again and again, that I would never do alike.

And yet, having just finished the migration of all my posts from PyBloxsom to Ikiwiki, I feel uneasy and may have overlooked an issue or two. Thus, I am asking my readers this way to report any problems to me.

But there's more to this post.

I switched to using Ikiwiki because I've had major problems in the past, drawing the lines between blog posts, wiki notes, and pages to be published on a home page. In fact, for the past years, I never had a home page and instead published information intended for posterity on my blog. Ikiwiki is mainly a wiki compiler, but it can be used to generate blog feeds as well, so it is, for me, the ideal tool to fuse the three into one.

The result, http://madduck.net, is still far from done and looks quite awful. The blog works (as far as I can tell), but I ran out of time for the rest. Specifically, I need to work on the layout and design. The Gopher-like, plain Ikiwiki style is usable, but I find it too cluttered and unappealing.

Unfortunately, Ikiwiki does not (yet) make it easy to amend the underlying templates in a consistent way, nor does it allow the use of different templates for different parts of the site. It is to specify a different template to be used on a page-by-page basis, but such a template cannot reuse an existing template, making it quite hard to achieve a consistent look across sites incorporating different components, such as blog, home page, and wiki.

I postulate that the Template Toolkit would solve a number of problems because of the wrapper directive, which makes template reuse quite trivial. Please refer to my wishlist request for more information.

Another problem I encounter on Ikiwiki sites is with tags. Tags are mainly specific to the object to which they're stuck. However, I often use them the other way around, too: as concepts. And sometimes I'd like to see all pages related to a given concept ("tagged with a given tag"). The only way to do this with Ikiwiki is to instantiate a page for each tag and slap a map on it. This is quite tedious and I'd really love to see Ikiwiki do so by default for all tags.

Fortunately, Ikiwiki is well maintained and growing, so my hopes are up. If it weren't written in Perl, I'd have already taken a stab at it, but as it stands, I'll have to wait for someone else to do it, or for a rainy weekend when I am not afraid to get my hands dirty.