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!

Trialling webpad Personal Edition 3.0

I am posting this from webpad Personal Edition 3.0, which I am trialling in raw beta mode on my server at the moment (minus blogging functionality until I decide what to do about that).

Development is progressing well, and at this stage, I hope to release at least an official beta within a few weeks, pending more rigorous file and security tests, as well as some browser compatibility tests.

webpad 3.0 Nearing Completion

Well, call me crazy, but I had some time off work, so I went ahead and worked on webpad Personal Edition 3.0. I got a lot done in the week or so that I was working on it, and it’s nearing a point that I will be happy with, barring one major hurdle: blog operations.

In version 3.0, I’ve decided to attempt to support 3 platforms for blogging, namely:

  1. blosxom (what I use)
  2. Blogger (what I used to use)
  3. MovableType (which I’ve never used)

This isn’t a problem in itself (apart from the complexity it adds to those operations :), but I don’t want to release anything for Blogger which is based on the current Blogger API, because they are planning on implementing the Atom API in the near future, which will be much better than what they’ve got now. In the meantime, blosxom is easy to support (filesystem-based, what could be better?) and I think MovableType is also going to be changing their API structure in the near future (as mentioned here).

I’m leaving all the blog operations until as late as possible in the development cycle for this version of webpad, but basically if the blog vendors don’t sort themselves out, I’ll just release this with blosxom support, and perhaps support for the existing APIs, then extend support and release a patch once Blogger and MT have implemented their new APIs.

This version also has some more advanced features like renaming and deleting files, creating new folders and XHTML compliance on all HTML that gets created directly by webpad. The interface has been updated as well to make it a little slicker, and hopefully load a little quicker (more reliance on CSS). The big news though, is that this version will be compatible with Mozilla browsers as well as IE (still working on some of the HTML tools for Mozilla though…). Coming along, coming along. Get on the mailing list at http://dentedreality.com.au/webpad/ if you’re not already, because I’ll be sending an email to that list with notification when webpad Personal Edition 3.0 is released.

webpad 3.0 Under Development

I don’t know what the heck prompted me to actually start this project now, but I have started coding/planning on version 3.0 of webpad. The first release will be webpad 3.0 Personal Edition, which will only have a single user function, and will require manual modification of a configuration file for the username/password and other options. Following that, I will also release a separate, more powerful version, which for now I am calling webpad Pro 3.0. This version will include multi-user support, a complete administration and installation interface, and will be targetted towards power-users and businesses.

webpad Personal Edition will remain free for everyone to download and use, but webpad Pro will attract a small licensing fee which is yet to be finalised. I will also be slightly changing the balance of features in each version, so you will find that some features you would like to be available may only be in the Pro version, although I will keep as much as I can in the Personal Edition.

Well, Here Goes Nothing

This is my first post to my new blosxom-powered web log using webpad. Hopefully this will work, and all will be well.

I think webpad offers a great way to manage a blosxom-powered blog remotely, since it offers a few easy-to-use HTML tools, while modifying the file directly on the server, which is just where blosxom wants them ๐Ÿ˜‰

If You Have A New Version of PHP…

webpad was written quite a while ago now, and the new installations of PHP come by default with some settings which will mean that webpad doesn’t work straight away. The easiest way to get around this (on an Apache server) is to put an “.htaccess” file in your webpad installation directory which contains something like this;

php_flag register_globals on

php_flag magic_quotes_gpc on

The next version of webpad will not require this, but for now it’s the easiest way around the problem.

If anyone knows of any other problems and/or fixes to problems with webpad, please email them in to me using the contact form or email here.

webpad 2.1 Underway

I have started the planning/initial development on version 2.1 of webpad. This will be mainly a bug-fix and consolidation release, while also bringing webpad up to a point where it will operate with the new default settings on PHP installs.

Once webpad 2.1 is released successfully, work on v3.0 will begin shortly thereafter, which will be a major code-revision, giving webpad a much more stable backend and coding structure, as well as a number of new features to improve its functionality and usefulness as a web-based text editor. I am also considering splitting the code-base into a “Personal Edition” and “Enterprise Edition” (names not finalised!) which would allow me to ficus each version on either single or multi-user environments (respectively). This would also most likely introduce a pricing structure for the Enterprise Edition (Personal Edition will remain free for the taking). I’ll keep you all up to date.