I'm resuming posting to my weblog today after a brief hiaitus, which was due to several overlapping demands on my time coinciding with the transition to a new, in-house weblog publishing engine. Today is the first opportunity to resume publishing with enough leisure to make sure that everything is working as it should.
We're still in transitional mode in the sense that some new features are not yet live, and we are not yet ready to introduce our upcoming site design. But the core functionality is in place, which means that for the first time our weekly, monthly and yearly archive pages will all update each time I publish a new blog entry. Under the old Blogger based system, the monthly and annual archive pages were a custom-built add-on that involved manual updating, which relegated it to a weekly task. Introducing the new system has given the opportunity to automate the process at the same time as expanding the monthly archive to give more details of each entry, while the annual archive page includes titles of every entry.
Still ahead is the task of importing all the content from previous years into the new system, so these archive improvements only apply for the time being to 2004 entries.
More work is going on behind the scenes to implement an XSLT-based publishing system for the entire site. On that note, I was intrigued this week to note the launch of xBuilderSMS, a commercial site management package that "combines industry-standard XML and XSL/XSLT to define a single site structure with virtually limitless output presentation options that can be extended to meet any needs." I'm glad to see a product like this appearing. But I'm wary of its use of on-the-fly processing to serve all pages dynamically. My personal preference is to create pages in advance and store them on the server ready to serve to clients especially high-traffic HTML pages. Then if your page processor fails for some reason, your web server can still serve the previously created pages to clients while the page processor is being fixed.