Blogging, Underneath the Hood

Album Cover: Graduation

"Y'all pop the trunk, I pop the hood (Ferrari)."
Kanye West / Good Life

Posted on June 03, 2003 11:44 AM in Web Development
Warning: This blog entry was written two or more years ago. Therefore, it may contain broken links, out-dated or misleading content, or information that is just plain wrong. Please read on with caution.

Over at finalstar.com (which won't exist much longer, hence no link) I spent a lot of time coding what I thought was the equivalent of today's modern blog. I realize that the main downfalls of this blog are that I do not allow comments or trackbacks and that my individual posts are never provided as static, standalone pages. Take a good look at Mark Pilgrim's blog and you'll see what I mean. So, with finalstar I thought long and hard about the best way to implement these (with the exception of trackbacks, which seem to involve a type of server logging that I know my current host wouldn't even let me get at).

At first I took an approach similar to the one used here, relying heavily on database IDs and dynamic pages, because I couldn't figure out how I was going to allow comments to continually be written to my posts once they had become static HTML pages. However, I realized that without static pages, I wouldn't be very Google-friendly, and any semi-major change to my database scheme would totally throw off any external links that might pop up out on the web. So, I went back to the drawing board and implemented a scheme that took advantage of file writing in PHP. With this technique, I could store my posts in the database, but also create static pages that would simply be re-written whenever a comment was added by a visitor. However, if my site were ever to become even a fourth as popular as Mark's site, asynchronous file writing would become a major issue and probably bring the whole site to a screeching halt.

I did have a working implementation, though, and chances are finalstar would have never gotten popular anyway, given that the stuff I write is often very bizarre if not complelely nonsensical, or as my girlfriend would say, "boring." So, if you're looking to create your own personal blog using nothing more than PHP and a database, fret not. It is possible. In fact, I can even give you a few pointers if you want. Just drop me a line.

Today I decided to look around and see how the bigwigs actually implement their blogs. Turns out Mark Pilgrim uses Movable Type to run his whole site, and even lets you take a look at the templates he uses. A lot of other people are using it too, so I suppose if you meet the requirements, it might be worth looking into. As for me, I will probably continue to take the Zeldman approach of doing things by myself.

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