Shane informs me that Textile was just installed onto the servers here. This is a good thing because it will make life easier for those of you writing the blogs.
For the uninitiated, Textile is just a syntax language that allows you to quickly/easily add some HTML elements (bold, italics, hyperlinks, lists, etc) to your posts without learning all of the nitty gritty HTML.
Textile isn't enabled by default, so you must enable it on a post-by-post basis. To do this, you click "New Entry" (or edit and old entry) and type in your post as usual. Towards the bottom is a Text Formatting dropdown box. Choose Textile 2.
If you decide you like Textile, you can make it the default Text Formatting option under "Weblog Config" > "Preferences" > "Default Text Formatting for new entries."
Now I'm not going to go over advanced syntax, but there exist numerous online resources to help you.
Basic commands you should know and be aware of:
*strong* - Translates into <strong>strong</strong>. _emphasis_ - Translates into <em>emphasis</em>. **bold** - Translates into <b>bold</b>. __italics__ - Translates into <i>italics</i>. ++bigger++ - Translates into <big>bigger</big>. --smaller-- - Translates into: <small>smaller</small>. -deleted text- - Translates into <del>deleted text</del>. +inserted text+ - Translates into <ins>inserted text</ins>. ^superscript^ - Translates into <sup>superscript</sup>. ~subscript~ - Translates into <sub>subscript</sub>.
Other useful commands are for links:
And for unordered lists (bullets)
* Item 1 * Item 2 * Item 3
# Item 1 # Item 2 # Item 3
Images, where the Alternate Text shows up for browsers that cannot show the images or when the mouse cursor is hovered over the image.
!http://path.to/image.file (Alternate Text)!
After using the system for a day or so, let me be the first to say that the integration with the x500 authentication is well done and convenient. On the whole, the project is very well done--I'm impressed with how smooth the whole process (of creating a new blog) went.
My greatest fear for this project is adoption--how many people will use it? Certainly, a first step would be to announce the project in a very public fashion (system-wide email?). I'll have to admit that I stumbled upon it only as I was looking over some system logs for referrers to my blog.
I'd like to clarify a few points--setting up a blog was much slicker than I had ever imagined (orders of magnitude easier than trying to install it by hand, or sign up for one of the other free blog hosts, ie: LiveJournal, Xanga, etc).
I understand the U's rational for adding the generic disclaimer to the bottom of all of the pages, but really they are one of the few schools that do this (as far as I've noticed).
The ability to allow multiple people to post to one blog is a really smart idea--something I noticed, but disregarded the first time around. Removing an author from a blog isn't the most trivial thing to do. However, it's not something that'll ever be used on a regular enough basis to make changing it worthwhile.
They smartly disabled the blog location fields in the "Weblog Config", preventing an unknowing (or malicious) user from changing the location of the blog to something that would either keep it from working or overwrite somebody else's files.
As for plugins, the only one I'd really recommend would be MT Textile. I used a number of other ones on my installation of MT on the ITLabs servers--namely SmartyPants, MTIfEmpty, and PerlScript. However, the majority of those satisfied only a small portion of the community that's looking to do something out of the ordinary. Beyond that, they might introduce a security risk. My suggestion would be to establish some sort of procedure for requesting the addition of plugins--maybe a suggestion form or email address.
On the whole, the project is well conceived and executed. Only time will tell if it is as successful as I hope it will.
I just thought I'd do a test post for multiple authors on the same blog. Adding an author was very trivial. At first I was worried that it wouldn't let me add an author not in the MT system (ie, somebody who hadn't signed up for their own blog yet--but that was not the case).
One of my favorite features of Textpattern is its builtin integration with Textile, a sort of markup language that lets you do a lot of html stuff w/o really know html. While, it's not a big deal for me because I know HTML, it is a huge time saver. Being able to add bold by *this is in bold* or emphasis with _in italics please_. Making hyperlinks was as easy as "one, two, three":http://www.google.com/.
As I'm sure few of you know, I'm a big MovableType fan (used to run it on ITLabs), however I ditched it for TextPattern because it didn't rely so heavily on static pages that took forever to generate. To me, they each satisfy a different niche.