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Nature, to Be Commanded, Must Be Obeyed

April 28, 2010

My Idea Of The Django Blogging App™

I am not going to talk about yet another Django-based blogging engine in this post. There are a number of blogging apps which try to be like turn-key solutions, like a WordPress blog. I have skimmed through the code of many such apps, but haven’t used one yet. Some of them are really high quality apps. What I have in mind is somewhat different though. I would like an app that would allow me to build a blog that satisfies my projects specific requirements.

Let me reiterate the last sentence. Having a Django-based blog just because Django is fashinable is a little dumb in my opinion. If Django-based X blogging engine suits you better than anything else, use it. Why not? But my personal choice of blogging engine is WordPress1. The value of a Django blogging app, for me, is in adding a blog to a Django project. And different projects might have different requirements. So my idea of a Django blogging app is one that is highly configurable and highly extendable.

On the other hand I don’t need the convenience of clicking a checkbox on a polished UI. I can write a function. Or I don’t necessarily need it to, say, provide a navigation menu. There are apps that do that. Even if there wasn’t it shouldn’t be the blog app’s job. So I am not looking for an instant-blog. I have a Django app in my mind, nothing more.

What Should Be Left Out

Basically any feature that can be provided by another reusable app should be left out. Why should we re-implement something that is already done… and reviewed by others… and tested. Of course this doesn’t necessarily mean providing no convenience functions.

  • No admin. Because we already have one.
  • No theming. For the love of Flying Spaghetti Monster, you don’t need any theming other than what django.template offers. Pre-built themes are for turn-key solutions.
  • No comments or contact forms. (See django.contrib.comments and django-contact-form)
  • No official markup format (or formats). This can be handled in the templates without difficulty. But, maybe, pluggable content filters is a good idea. I haven’t made up my mind on this one entirely. It won’t use any markup format by default, that is for sure.

What Should Be Included

Remember, every project has a different set of needed features for its blog. Some need catagories, some need tags and some others need both. But it would end up as a disaster if we implemented each one of those features into a single app. Instead I think it should consist of many small apps that work together. But I wouldn’t want to end up having huge spaghetti of apps that all depend on one another, like Pinax does. A minimal amount of core apps2 and then everything else should be optional. By optional I mean you don’t have to install packages you won’t need.

I think the components (apps) should be activated via adding to INSTALLED_APPS and configured with settings. I can’t think of any parameter that needs to be changed dynamically, so why not use the established way of doing configuration in Django.

Two must have features for such a blogging app are previews and scheduled publishing. It is possible that you sometimes write a post quickly and publish it immediately. But I suppose nobody will say they don’t care about these two features.

Built-in feeds and sitemaps are also nice to have.

Multiple instances of this blogging app running on the same project? À la admin. I can’t make my mind on this one. Sure it would be a nice feature. But it could complicate the code. Peehaps too much for a not so common case.

What do you think about the general idea? Are there any other must-have features? Would you be willing to learn a new app when you are already comfortable with another blogging app?

1: Even though it’s written in the abomination called PHP. But since there are plugins for everything I don’t have to touch the code.

2: One sounds like a good number, if possible.

If you have any questions, suggestions or corrections feel free to drop me a line.