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Today I spent way too much time flirting with Typo. Typo is a blogging system based on Rails. Rails, in turn, is the Web application framework for Ruby that's been making Web developers so very excited lately (and with good reason). Ruby is the only programming language that's been able to tempt me away from Python ever since I first discovered Python's incredible sleekness in my senior-level algorithms course at university.

But I digress. Why am I still playing with blog programs when I so recently reiterated my satisfaction with PyBlosxom? The first reason is features. It would be very nice to be able to search within the posted entries, to place entries in multiple categories at once, and to split entries so that only the first lead-in paragraph is initially shown on the front page, thus allowing more entries to fit comfortably on a single page. I could probably get these features through PyBlosxom by hunting down some plug-ins written by other people or by writing them myself, but since I always strive to embody the virtue of laziness, I'm not going to do that if I can get what I want for free (more or less) by switching to a different program.

A somewhat more important reason to play with Typo is to grab some nice juicy experience points with the technologies involved. As enlightening as it may be to read about things like Ruby and Rails and Sqlite, I'll never really get the hang of them without actually finding an excuse to use them, no matter how poignant my reading material may be.

I'm still not sure whether I'll actually switch to Typo. I'm not pleased with how much I had to fight to get it to work with Apache without being given an entire DocumentRoot to take over all for itself. This is not actually hard to do once you learn how to do it; rather, this counts as a failure of the documentation for Typo (where the relevant information is obscured by poor organization) and the documentation for Rails (where the information is incomplete, occasionally incorrect, and organized erratically). On the other hand, when it's set up and working well, Typo is quite pleasant to work with. The question may hinge upon whether I can successfully shoehorn Typo into managing all the content on my site, which would be an easy and clean way to maintain a consistent appearance across all pages. Typo does have built-in support for managing static HTML pages, but it doesn't seem to have any ready-made facility for indexing and serving up non-HTML files, so I'd have to pull a minor magic trick or two before letting Typo take over everything.

Of course, if I'm really serious about using a content manager for my Web site, then I'd have to think a little harder about the bigger players in that arena, like Textpattern, Wordpress, and Movable Type. But that's something for another day.