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The Net Takeaway: Wikis and Blogs, Drupal and SnipSnap...


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Wikis and Blogs, Drupal and SnipSnap... · 09/03/2004 07:14 PM, Tech

I really hope that Drupal figures out how to marry the wiki ease of editing with the necessary features for blogging. It really is a nice tool. That being said, lots of internal strife recently over the classic "hack some features to meet immediate needs" vs. "good code is hard to write, but it lasts". James Seng has created Drupal4Bloggers which adds many of the MT features to Drupal.

This is very nice... but the mainline Drupal folks aren't accepting his patches fast enough and/or they aren't as well written as they expect and/or the moon is in a certain aspect, but whatever it is, there is talk that Mr. Seng will just keep going with his heavily modded Drupal on his own, known as a "fork" (my opinion, not that of the Drupal folks, who will think I am making a mountain out of a speck). In my experience, forks kill projects, so I would rather not see that happen. Instead, I hope all will continue to play nice, and work to integrate Mr. Seng's features into the mainline Drupal system.

Why mention any of this at all? Because internally, rather than setup either a LAMP box or Apache x%x% PHP on Windows in order to run Drupal or a PHP oriented wiki, I have installed SnipSnap. It elegantly combines aspects of Wiki and Blogs, and is a self-contained Java web server/system. It can use a variety of databases, but includes McKoi embedded as well as simple file system... And get this: You can test it with Java Web Start. Open source, based on the Vanilla wiki, and some pretty dedicated programmers behind it.

This is great for running on a windows box in a corporate org. BTW, I tried the powerful Twiki and it was a nightmare on Windows and IIS. No matter what they say, that's a unix tool through and throug. And I know, I could just install Knoppix or any of the user-friendly distros and be done with it, but SnipSnap was quick and easy. 3 clicks and it was up and running. Very nice.

Finding an affordable external host who will support Java is painful, so LAMP tools like Textpattern and PHP-Wiki and, yes, Drupal will continue to rule the roost for the "public" web. Its interesting: The very things that made me choose SnipSnap are impossible to find externally (_cheap_ hosting with a Java runtime and availabilty of jboss/tomcat in the future), and like many organizations, all the wonderful PHP tools I admire are kind of a pain to get running in a Windows-centric group. Yes, with enough time, I could get Apache/Perl/PHP/etc. emulated or run (Cygwin / UnxUtils / ATT's UWin / GnuWin32 / MS Services for Unix / Countless "all in one AMP for Windows installers") on Windows... but why should I have to when SnipSnap is there? That's how to package software to invade corporate America with open source.

Note to the open-source world: Find easier and better ways to package PHP, MySQL, and Perl with built in webservers not requiring IIS, or provide step by steps to use with IIS and don't require Apache. Make your apps standalone, and provide migration paths. Provide the features you want, but also the features your users need across their unique situations (corporations, personal sites, family photo albums, etc.) Assume that external hosting on LAMP will be different from Intranet hosting on WinXP and Win2K boxes.

Otherwise, you are making wonderful software that that vast majority of "knowledge workers" will never take advantage of.

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