webpad 3.0 Beta Testing

Tonight I have a few more things to polish off (including writing the installation documentation), and then I will start going through my suite of tests for webpad. Once my round of pretty intensive tests are done, I have a couple people who are going to be helping me out with some beta testing. I’m really glad they are able to do this, because it means I can test webpad out on some other server installations before releasing it into the wild, and hopefully sort out any potential problems before anyone else has to deal with them.

I’m expecting to release webpad next week, if not this weekend!

Really Getting Close

Tonight I secured webpad a little more heavily, standardised some more of the operations across different sections and generally tidied things up. I also added ‘delete post’ functionality to the currently supported blog systems (blosxom, Blogger.com, TypePad and LiveJournal), and that’s looking pretty slick.

Part of add the delete functionality required me to write out the (very, very simple) plugin API for adding and removing tools to the toolbar. I may be a little biased (and not at all modest), but I think it’s pretty cool ๐Ÿ™‚ More about plugins later – but basically webpad 3.0 supports plugins through a “My Plugins” section, so hopefully people might even write some new features for it, allowing access to more external sources of text to edit!

So, I can hear you asking; what’s left? Well:

  1. MovableType Support (open, edit, create, delete)
  2. WordPress Support (ditto)
  3. Update a few interface niceties (like the ‘About webpad’ dialog)
  4. Write the new Help Manual, which is a lot different to the last version, and will be a lot bigger
  5. Update the webpad project page
  6. Fix a scrolling bug in Mozilla (fixed on PC, needs a tweak for Mac)
  7. Pretty up some of the error messages
  8. Thorough system testing before release
  9. Packaging up with some instructions on installation

Oh yeah, and of course, I’m doing the whole dog-food eating thing and as usual, this is posted with the very latest version of webpad (from FireFox), using a couple of the tools and bits and pieces and it’s all looking good.

webpad 3.0 Closing In

Seriously, this time I actually mean it ๐Ÿ™‚ webpad 3.0 Personal Edition is really close to being available for beta download. I’m really excited about this version, I think it has some awesome features and is an excellent upgrade from webpad 2.0 (it feels like a whole new product is has so much new stuff!).

Keep an eye on the project page and sign up to the mailing list to hear as soon as it’s available!

No More HTTP Authentication

Well, it’s official. webpad 3.0 will now use integrated, session-based authentication for users, rather than HTTP Authentication. I’ve changed to this in large part to allow me to use it in CGI mode (which, incidentally, works wonderfully), so webpad is even more portable now. In fact, if you have PHP running in CGI mode, I will be reccommending that you run webpad under that mode.

With the new integrated authentication, when you hit webpad you are presented with a log in screen, where you enter a username/password as normal, then continue to the actual application.

I’m also currently looking at templating (thanks to a previous hack that Brad Choate made to webpad 2.0 which allowed it to selectively edit the contents of a file, only within certain regions (denoted by webpad tags of some sort). I will have this functionality included in the official release of webpad 3.0 Personal Edition, and it will definitely be a part of the Professional release.

Things may have been quiet, but they’re not completely dead! ๐Ÿ™‚

Problem With Permissions

As I have previously experienced, creating files on the server using webpad can sometimes cause problems with permissions, because the resultant files are owned (on a *NIX box) by the user that Apache was running as. Since that’s not normally the same as your shell user, you can have some problems managing those files later on.

Ideally, I’d have webpad create files, then change them so that a specified user account owns/controls them, but that the Apache user would have access to them. Since I’m yet to get this working (or figure out exactly how I can do it on DreamHost), in the meantime I am just creating files or directories and immediately chmod’ing them to 777 (I know, I know, not secure etc, but the only way I can do it so that I can work with the files later.)

Anyone know a better way of doing it?

I am also considering switching away from HTTP Authentication, and using a form to log in to webpad, which might just allow me to run webpad in CGI mode on DreamHost, and thus solve user problems, because it would run as my user… will keep you posted on that though.

Blank File Bug Fixed

I’ve finally figured out a bug in the current development version of webpad that meant once in a while I’d somehow overwrite a file I had previously been working on with a blank file.

Turns out that it was because I was reloading webpad in a window which I had previously used it, so the session (containing filenames etc) was still active. When webpad loaded, it was triggering the ‘save’ operation, and saving the now-empty main window as the file I was previously working on. All I’ve done is make it so that you can’t write a blank file now — if you want to delete something, you should be using the delete operation in the file dialog anyway.

One step closer to release! Blogs are still a sticking point tho… how/what to support on Blogger.com/MovableType is the thing holding me up. Complete blosxom support is already in there, and works wonderfully – I’m using it to maintain my blogs and website. The Blogger Atom API sounds really ugly and excessively complex, but I’ll let it stabilise a little more and then have a proper look at it I think…

If Not For The Blogs

webpad development is coming along very well, and the UI is streets ahead of version 2.0, with a collection of really useful little extras, some great new features and some bits and pieces that just make life a lot easier while using the program. If it weren’t for the blogging functionality, I’d be this close to releasing a beta version of 3.0 Personal Edition.

Incidentally, adding the functionality for the fantastic blogging application, blosxom was completely trivial, care of it’s wonderful use of the file system of the server that it’s hosted on. In effect, blosxom blogs within webpad are represented as alternate home directories, and use all the same file access operations as the normal server actions do – excellent!

Check it out and get yourself a copy of blosxom if you’re running a blog, it’s the best thing out there if you don’t mind a bit of hackery and custom mods ๐Ÿ™‚

File Upload Working

Well, after having some terrible problems with the file upload tool on the new version of webpad, I finally have it working.

Turns out the main problem was that my cleanup script that removes temp files periodically from webpad’s directory was cleaning up the uploaded files before you had a chance to move them to their permanent location. Now that that’s under control, all’s well!