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Preview of Blogofile 0.8

April 30, 2011 at 01:42 PM | Ryan McGuire | categories: development | View Comments

I'm hard at work on Blogofile 0.8 which is going to be a huge upgrade from 0.7.1. I want to start writing down some of the new features and things that have changed, so as not to overwhelm you all at once on the day of release.

Here's a brief changelog from 0.7.1 to 0.8:

  • Python 3 support! Blogofile now runs on Python 2.6, 2.7, 3.1 or 3.2.
  • Plugins.
  • New template engines.
  • blogofile build now works from any subdirectory in your source tree.
  • Cross-python-version unit tests with Tox.
  • Full stack testing with in-browser Selenium tests.
  • HTML 5 Boilerplate enabled site templates.
  • Command line completion and plugin commands.
  • Blogger import script (contributed by Seth de l'Isle)
  • Markdown extensions are enabled by user configuration.
  • Static files can be configured to hard link rather than copy into the _site directory (Contributed by Nick Craig-Wood)

These are all planned features for 0.8, and they are all at least partially implemented, but I'm still working on polishing them up, so they may or may not be fully working at the moment. This is just a preview.

Python 3

With the release of Python 3.2, py3k has finally matured into a stable and well built product. All of the dependencies of Blogofile are working well on Python 3, and therefore it's the right time to move forward and have Blogofile embrace Python 3 as well.

Going forward, all new development on Blogofile is being done in Python 3.2. This does not mean however, that I'm abandoning Python 2 -- that would be catastrophic. There are a lot of reasons you may want to stay with Python 2: it's what you know and are comfortable with, a library you depend on only works in older versions, you feel Python 3 isn't mature yet (but it is!) For many reasons, it's important that Blogofile remains working in Python 2 just as well it does in Python 3. Even this site, blogofile.com, is still running on Python 2 because Sphinx (stable) doesn't yet support Python 3.

Blogofile 0.8 introduces what I hope to be a smooth migration for people who want to use Python 3, but also to maintain full feature compatibility for users still using Python 2.

The source code at github is all Python 3 code. If you're checking out from git, you will need Python 3. Python 2 versions are built by converting this code with the 3to2 tool. This is automated through the standard sdist facility:

python setup.py sdist

This packages a tarball in the dist/ directory that contains both the regular python3 source code as well as the python2 source code. Depending on the python version used to install it, the correct source code gets installed. This is the same type of tarball that will be uploaded to PyPI once Blogofile is stable and is released. Users will be able to run pip install blogofile on any version of Python (2.6+, 3.1+) and run blogofile without any hassle, and no need for the end user to install 3to2 because the conversion has already been applied.

Tox is a testing tool that leverages virtualenv to run unit tests within multiple Python environments. Blogofile is currently using Tox to verify that sites built with Blogofile work well in multiple Python versions.

Plugins

Blogofile 0.8 includes new plugin support. Plugins are just packages of controllers, filters, templates, and other files. These are distributed and installed as regular python packages (eg. easy_install blogofile_blog). Since plugins are installed separately from Blogofile, you can upgrade them independently. Installed plugins are detected by Blogofile at runtime and if the user configures the plugin in their _config.py, the plugin can add functionality to a Blogofile site.

The blog controller from 0.7.1 has been completely removed from Blogofile and has been repackaged as a plugin. This has many advantages:

  • New stable releases of Blogofile and the blog controller are now independent of each other.
  • The blog controller is no longer placed into the user's site source code. Instead, the controller remains in the Python library directory and is only referenced and configured in the user's _config.py. This let's you upgrade your site to new versions without having you to delete or otherwise modify your _controllers/ directory as you do now in Blogofile 0.7.1 or older. The blog templates (post.mako, chronological.mako etc.) can be copied into userspace and customized if desired.

Also note, that you don't have to use the blog plugin if you don't want to, you can just as easily keep using the old blog controller from 0.7.1 if you have a legacy site.

Command Completion and Plugin Commands

0.8 introduces bash command line completion. Partially typing a blogofile command and then pressing the TAB key will complete the command you're typing or will provide you with a list of possible completions.

This can be turned on by placing the following into your ~/.bashrc file:

command -v blogofile &>/dev/null && source <(BLOGOFILE_BASH_BOOTSTRAP=true blogofile)

Plugins can now extend the blogofile command line executable with their own commands, which makes command line completion all the more convenient. For instance, these are the commands implemented in the blog plugin:

usage: blogofile blog [-h] {templates,post} ...

positional arguments:
  {templates,post}
    templates       Blog template helpers
    post            Blog post helpers

Typing blogofile blog post create <title> will create a new blog post inside your _posts/ directory pre-populated with today's date and the title you gave it. This allows you to get started writing your blog posts more easily without having to write all the post YAML yourself. This feature was created in collaboration with Ant Zucaro.

Running blogofile blog templates copy _templates/blog will copy all of the blog templates into your site's source directory. This let's you customize them to your own liking. If you do this, you need to write the following in your _config.py to tell the blog controller where to refer to these templates:

plugins.blog.template_path = "_templates/blog"

Template Engines

Blogofile has supported Mako as it's templating engine ever since its first release. I personally feel that Mako is the very best templating engine available for Python, but you're free to have a different opinion. I think choice is also a great thing, so Blogofile template support has been abstracted to support other engines. Included in 0.8 is a Jinja2 implementation (which is very similar to Django templates) and a new blogofile specific template called FilterTemplate.

The user's _config.py now configures a mapping of file extension to template type. Here's what you get by default:

templates.engines = HC(
  mako = MakoTemplate,
  jinja = JinjaTemplate,
  jinja2 = JinjaTemplate,
  markdown = MarkdownTemplate,
  rst = RestructuredTextTemplate,
  textile = TextileTemplate
  )

If you've been using Blogofile long, you already know about the first one: Mako. However, instead of being hard-coded inside the blogofile writer class to render files ending in .mako with Mako, Blogofile 0.8 uses the above configuration to know what template type to associate it with. So, .mako gets rendered with the MakoTemplate class, .jinja and .jinja2 get's rendered with JinjaTemplate etc. Feel free to redefine this yourself in your own _config.py if you feel the need.

An important configuration item sets the site base template:

site.base_template = "site.mako"

By default it's called site.mako which is consistent with how simple_blog has always called it. It's more important now to realize what this file is however, because all templates, even templates of different engines can inherit from this file. For instance, if your site uses site.mako as it's base template but you have a jinja2 template somewhere in your source directory (or a plugin you installed uses one), you don't have to recreate your entire site structure in jinja -- instead, you can have jinja2 inherit from your mako templates directly:

{% extends "bf_base_template" %}

When you render a template, Blogofile detects if site.base_template is of a different template type than the currently rendering template. If it is, it renders the base template first, installs the base template as an alias called bf_base_template, then renders the first template inside of the base template at the right place. The "right place" is also configurable via templates.content_blocks, but you shouldn't need to change that unless you're introducing your own template engine.

FilterTemplates are a new template type altogether that lets you use any Blogofile filter as it's own template engine. This let's you use, for instance, Markdown and reStructuredText files as standalone template types. In Blogofile 0.7.1 you could only use markdown or reStrucutredText inside blog posts, but now you can use it anywhere you want in your site source by placing a file ending in .markdown or .rst. These files will also inherit your site base template, so all you need inside the file is the content that you want on the page and it will look like all the other pages on your site once rendered. Please be aware that markdown and reStruturedText are not really full template engines, so if you're doing anything complex with controllers, you probably should stick with Mako or Jinja2. Really, it's just a convenient way to create a static page quickly without needing to code HTML.

HTML 5 Boilerplate and other example sites

HTML5Boilerplate is the new hotness in web-design -- it provides a great base to start from for creating new sites with all the new features that HTML 5 brings.

Blogofile is going to have a simple_blog variant that includes these features:

blogofile init simple_blog_html5

That will get you started. It's still unthemed just like simple_blog is today. I'm working on even more variants that include some themes to get you a decent looking site out of the box.

Checking out the code and getting started

If you want to start playing around with Blogofile 0.8 right now, even before it's stable, go right ahead. I'd appreciate feedback to know what is and isn't working for you, or any confusion you have.

Please note, that these instructions are only valid for people wishing to get a preview of Blogofile and don't mind checking out the source code from git and running code that might not be fully working yet. Also, these instructions are about ten times longer than what will be necessary once Blogofile is released as a stable build. Once that happens, you won't need any virtual environments or 3to2 conversions etc. Essentially, these instructions help to create a development environment.

Prerequisites

  • Python 3.1+ (even if you plan on using Python 2 to build your site)
  • Distribute
  • 3to2 (make sure it's the Python 3 version as linked here)
  • virtualenv - not required, but recommended, especially if you're already running a stable version of Blogofile.

If you want to run the unit tests, you'll also need:

  • Tox
  • Python 2.7 - This runs the selenium tests which don't support python 3 yet.

Install Blogofile

I'll assume you're using Ubuntu Linux. If not, you'll need to translate these instructions yourself. Developer docs that I'm currently writing will be friendlier for non Ubuntu folks.

Install Python 3.2. If you're not running Ubuntu 11.04 yet, you'll need to install the PPA for Python 3.2 and install from there:

sudo apt-get install python-software-properties
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:irie/python3.2
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install python3 python3-dev

Install distribute:

sudo su -c "wget http://python-distribute.org/distribute_setup.py -O - | python3"

Install virtualenv:

sudo easy_install-3.2 virtualenv

Make sure you have git:

sudo apt-get install git-core

Checkout the Blogofile sources to a directory of your choosing which we'll call $BFSRC:

cd $BFSRC
git clone https://github.com/EnigmaCurry/blogofile.git .

Create a virtual environment to separate the development Blogofile from any production version you already have installed:

mkdir $BFSRC/venv
virtualenv -p python3.2 --no-site-packages --prompt="(blogofile-0.8)" venv

To enter the virtual environment run:

source $BFSRC/venv/bin/activate

You'll see your prompt now has (blogofile-0.8) prepended to it, indicating that you're currently in the virtual environment. You'll need to run the source command above each time you start a new terminal window to re-enter the virtual environment.

If you decided to run Blogofile with python3, you're ready to install Blogofile as a development library:

python setup.py develop

This pulls down all the dependencies of Blogofile from the internet and installs Blogofile as a system library in place (inside the virtualenv of course), so any changes you make to the source or pull from git will automatically be applied.

If you wanted to run Blogofile in python2, there's an extra step you must take to convert the sources:

easy_install 3to2_py3k
python setup.py sdist

This converts all the python source to be compatible with python2 via 3to2. It creates a tarball in the dist/ directory which you can then install with python2 (outside this python3 virtualenv):

easy_install dist/Blogofile-0.8-DEV.tar.gz

You should now have Blogofile 0.8 installed in a virtual environment which you can verify by running:

blogofile info

You'll see which blogofile you're running and information about where it's pulling data from:

This is Blogofile (version 0.8-DEV) -- http://www.blogofile.com
You are using CPython 3.2.0 from /home/ryan/src/blogofile/venv/bin/python
Blogofile is installed at: /home/ryan/src/blogofile/blogofile
Default config file: /home/ryan/src/blogofile/blogofile/site_init/_config.py
The specified directory has no _config.py, and cannot be built.

You can see the following from my configuration above:

  • I'm using Blogofile version 0.8-DEV
  • I'm using CPython 3.2.0
  • Blogofile is installed inside my virtual environment at /home/ryan/src/blogofile

If blogofile info shows you a similar configuration, you've installed it correctly.

Install Blog Plugin

As mentioned earlier, the blog plugin is a separate install from Blogofile itself. You can install it in the same virtual environment created in the last step. Create a new directory parallel to $BFSRC, I'll call it $BF_BLOG_SRC:

mkdir $BF_BLOG_SRC
cd $BF_BLOG_SRC
git clone https://github.com/EnigmaCurry/blogofile_blog.git .
python setup.py develop

Just like Blogofile, if you're wanting to run the blog plugin in Python 2.6+, you'll need to convert the source into a 2.x compatible tarball and install that:

python setup.py sdist
easy_install dist/blogofile_blog-0.8.tar.gz

Testing

You can now create a simple_blog for testing:

mkdir $BFSRC/test_site
cd $BFSRC/test_site
blogofile init simple_blog
blogofile build
blogofile serve 8080

The site should build and serve locally at http://localhost:8080

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