Scott Hanselman

Active ASP.NET Blogging Engines

September 8, '06 Comments [16] Posted in DasBlog
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Dasblog_splashJust stumbled on this post from "The Rabid Paladin." I wanted to clarify to a few things that he brings up in the post.

The front-runners in the .NET space for blogging software appear to be SubText and DasBlog--both are branches from their progenitor .Text which appears to be defunct. Unfortunately, since .Text was originally ASP.NET 1.1, both SubText and DasBlog are rooted in that technology. They both support custom themes, but they had to hack ASP.NET 1.1 to do so--mostly with custom controls.

DasBlog is a ongoing fork from BlogX, not .Text. Neither SubText nor DasBlog are "rooted" in ASP.NET 1.1 (not sure how one would root in a particular version of ASP.NET), both run happily under 2.0 and both have 'more native' 2.0 versions in development. DasBlog's theming isn't based on custom controls, it's a Radio Userland-style macro language so Mort can write his or her own themes without coding. It's true that there's lots of ways to architect themes and skins, including, but not limited to, the built in ASP.NET 2.0 theming.

I was originally drawn more to DasBlog because I've become a fan of Scott Hanselman--first from his podcasts, Hanselminutes, but later to his blog (which actually uses DasBlog, kudos for eating the dinner you've made). He's one of those over-producers who seems to have his hand in on fifteen million things at a time and is able to simultaneously talk about it all.

However, DasBlog's main website is frequently down, and there doesn't appear to be a lot of action in the form of improvements, releases, news, or updates. Which makes me wonder if it isn't a dying product, suffering from Scott's hyper interests.

Thanks for the kind words about the podcast! Our DasBlog website has been down occasionally because it's run from the basement of a very kind volunteer, but it being down shouldn't necessarily reflect poorly on the hard work the team has done.

We do have two sites:

On the "not a lot of action" point, I'm a little surprised by that. Have you read my blog over the last 6 months? There's a lot of activity: http://www.hanselman.com/blog/CategoryView.aspx?category=DasBlog

We're just releasing 1.9 soon, we've got daily builds every day, we've added literally dozens of (we think) cutting edge features (http://www.hanselman.com/blog/UpcomingDasBlog19.aspx) and are working on the roadmap for the .NET Framework 3.0 version.

And I stress we - There's an active group of a dozen or so contributors who are continuing to make DasBlog a great platform. It's not just me.

Here's a post on how to contribute to a project like DasBlog. Since the 'how to patch' post, dozens of patches have been added, many bug fixed. We also ship with 23 themes to choose from and more are on the way. The team is more active now then it's ever been and we're looking forward to the future.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Friday, September 08, 2006 7:18:48 PM UTC
One thing that should be added regarding dasBlog... it doesn't appear to run on a medium trust server. I wish it did.
Vic Berggren
Friday, September 08, 2006 7:40:13 PM UTC
Woa. I feel like Courtney Cox picked out of the crowd to dance with the Boss. Only all uncoordinated and stuff. :).

I feel bad because I obviously generalized from SubText to DasBlog, and that's unfair to your team. You point out inaccuracies in my comments on components and origins. Mea Culpa and apologies.

When I reference "rooted in ASP.NET 1.1" I'm mainly talking about how customization and presentation are handled. i.e. I was using short-hand to refer to ASP.NET 2.0's master page and theme structures. IMO, it'll be a major task for those who convert from 1.1 to 2.0 to implement those features after the fact if they've already built similar systems in 1.1. Which is too bad because those structures provide an easy-to-extend third-party themeing potential that could be useful, I think.

As for project activity, I'll tell you what I see. I'm not denying what you say, but the things you describe are relatively opaque. Your posts here come every five days or so (at least in the last bit since I've begun noticing) and tend to be from a personal perspective (note again that I'm generalizing from the last month or two). As such, while interesting, they convey the impression of a single-developer effort where features are implemented by personal interest (not atypical in open source projects). When I hit sourceforge to investigate the project, I see a three-month gap in the bugs submissions, a two-month gap in support requests, no patches (well, there is one now), a couple feature requests every month (though none assigned to anybody), and zero news items.

And yes, I do notice the two things I leave out: actual activity in the project source and your user forums. I'm not a fan of user forums as a way to communicate with users/clients/customers--at least from the user/client/customer perspective. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because I've moved on from my early 1990's BBS days (that's not a slam at forums as some kind of old tech dinosaur--it's that they are a way to create online community and I have too many of those already). When looking for project updates, I don't want the cacophony of a general conversation--I'm looking for knowledge from on high.

Frankly, my statement of activity does imply familiarity with code check-ins/modifications, so I can see why that'd kick over your foul detection sensors. I might have to jump the svn hoops to take a peek. Only fair as I've done that with both the other projects I mentioned.

Anyway, I'm glad you took the time to post a response. I truly appreciate it and look forward to digging some more.
Friday, September 08, 2006 8:32:57 PM UTC
Jacob - its true that all of the Sourceforge tabs for the DasBlog project are not very active. They are just one of many ways to communicate issues and feature requests. If you'd like to get a better idea of activity, try subscribing to the developer mailing list, or just browse the archives:
http://sourceforge.net/mailarchive/forum.php?forum_id=43543

Also, no need to jump any svn hoops to look at the code changes. Just go to:
http://svn.sourceforge.net/viewvc/dasblogce/trunk/
ViewVC does a nice job of showing you the age of each file, and allows you to compare changes between different versions, etc, all from the comfort of your browser.
Friday, September 08, 2006 8:45:13 PM UTC
Great comment. I hope you didn't feel I was picking on you, I tried to pick my words carefully.

Point taken on what you meant by "rooted" - it'll be easier than I think you think, but you're right, it's non-trivial. But then again, it's non trivial for ANYONE who did their own themes (who didn't?) in 1.1 to move to 2.0.

On the patches side, there's many, visit the patches page and select "ANY" rather than "OPEN" and you'll see some of them: DasBlog Patches There are many that ARE emailed though.

If you subscribe to the check in mail, you'll see that there's a checkin nearly everyday. Look at the repository online and look at the .Web Assemblies' age: http://svn.sourceforge.net/viewvc/dasblogce/trunk/source/

I'll try to hide/disable some of the tabs on SF.NET or redirect them to the real activity. Check this out, as the developer list is where the real work happens: DasBlog Mail Archives
Scott Hanselman
Friday, September 08, 2006 8:45:39 PM UTC
Vic - do you want to help make it happen?
Scott Hanselman
Friday, September 08, 2006 9:08:50 PM UTC
Uh you bet. I ended up having to install thinkjot (domain in homepage link) which blew up the application pool according to my host. So I wound up moving it to another host and it seems to be working there but I wanted to run dasBlog in asp.net 2.0.

How can I tell what pieces of the application are attempting to run at any trust level > medium?
Friday, September 08, 2006 9:09:28 PM UTC
Good timing,
I was, in fact, just about to send another patch to Scott right now :D

I picked up dasblog when I needed something to run alongside other asp.net applications. The availability of the core developers and the consistent development were something that made this the most appealing product to go with when starting a new blog (or importing posts from another).

It only took a month or so of hobby development to catch up to speed on creating new macros, and about another month to actually contributing patches to the core build (and I am a UI designer by trade).

If you have any interest in the future of asp.net blog engines, and you can code in C#, you should consider picking up interest in this project.

Friday, September 08, 2006 9:53:48 PM UTC
I didn't feel picked on at all, Scott. It's obvious you care about dasBlog and you wanted to correct some things I got wrong. I'm glad you saw the post and chose to respond (though I'm more than a little shocked that you picked up on my post--heaven knows my readership is, uh, modest). I've checked out the source from svn and I'm tearing my hair out with SVN and ASP.NET 1.1 due to how web projects blow up on the .svn folder (not a request for advice, that. There are any number of workarounds to the incompatability I just have to select one). Or I might just bypass that whole mess and see what I can do to pull it into VS 2005 anyway--which would be a preferable mess... :)
Friday, September 08, 2006 10:13:33 PM UTC
Also (not to jack your comment count or anything, I just found I had more to say), you're right about it being a problem for anyone who has to re-write ASP.NET 1.1 themeing into the 2.0 paradigm. How much of a pain will depend on how it is originally architectured (either by being close to the 2.0 or by being modular enough to be easy to move).

Hiding or redirecting the links that you're not using from the built-in functionality is an excellent idea, I think. Also, anything up front (summary area maybe) that pointed to the active areas wouldn't hurt, I don't think.
Friday, September 08, 2006 10:29:12 PM UTC
When you install TortoiseSVN for the first time, you have to go into the options BEFORE you check out and enable the renaming of those folders. Then checkout and the drama will end. You can more easily just make a global Environment Variable (right click on my computer, properties, advanced, environment) and make a var called SVN_ASP_DOT_NET_HACK.
http://tortoisesvn.net/node/15
Scott Hanselman
Saturday, September 09, 2006 1:47:49 AM UTC
Please let me chime in here just a little bit!

About the availability of the dasblog sites, all the sites are running at Boundgrid.net.

It is true that for some weeks, I had to re-host those sites in my basement while I resolved some issues with that commerical host.

Apprantely an upgrade at the host of H-Sphere, killed the dasblog environments I had so carefully crafted.
DasBlog.info now runs under ASP.NET 2.0 at BoundGrid.net, and I/we will be upgrading very soon to 1.9x with a new custom theme.

I have never had any technical issues with DasBlog as to system reliability, mostly connectivity issues, my own or my hosts. And now those are behind us!

Thx
Tom Watts
admin@dasblog.us
Saturday, September 09, 2006 3:06:41 AM UTC
I've used dasBlog for ... well I can't remember how long ... but I've had absolutely no complaints. Kudos to you, Scott, and the rest of the team for building and putting out a great product that I find highly useful.

And a job well done in defending dasBlog and correcting the record. It's useful and interesting to read more of the back trail of a project, it's provenance, so to speak.

-Tyler
Saturday, September 09, 2006 5:47:41 PM UTC
Hi, Scott

This was actually first posted in http://dasblog.us/viewtopic.php?t=285. They suggested me to leave a comment here.

I am looking for a solution to have a portable wiki that can run from a USB memory stick. You know as a personal knowledge management tool. I tried just install DasBlog on stick and make IIS point to the folder. However, when I tried to post new entries between machines, some entries are overwritten and lost during the swtich of machine.

Can you point to me some directions to go to?
Harry
Saturday, September 09, 2006 6:18:55 PM UTC
Regarding the theming/master page issue - I think too many people assume that because MS included it in .Net then it must be good. I would not presume that Themes/Master Pages provides any benefit over older 1.1 approaches. Having been down this road with DotNetNuke, we found we would lose a lot of functionality by moving to master pages, and we would confuse our users and 3rd party developers who were making some serious progress with the skinning engine. Sometimes new and shiny does not equal better.
Sunday, September 10, 2006 12:57:18 AM UTC
Harry - If you want a portable wiki that will run from a stick, absolutely use TiddlyWiki. It's the best and requires NO serverside components.
Scott Hanselman
Monday, September 11, 2006 4:15:39 PM UTC
Joe, "good" is too vague a term I think. There are lots of ways that things can be better than alternatives. You describe perhaps the biggest hit moving from previous ways to new ones: an installed user base who already knows the system. It can be quite painful for those who have already mastered that hurdle to move to a new way of doing things (which is why I brought that up as a major obstacle above). To balance that out is the "standards" effect. The more people who learn the intracacies of the built-in ASP.NET 2.0 features, the more useful it is to leverage those features in your application. Pushing the training and documentation onto Microsoft gives you the benefit of concentrating on your extensions to the system while knowing that a substantial percentage of folk aren't going to need more than the base provided by the "standard" theme/master page construct.
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.