Checking Out WeBlog for Sitecore
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 2:08 PM
So the next release of EviBlog for Sitecore is going to be called WeBlog… The new trac page and SVN have been set up - you can see for yourself here http://trac.sitecore.net/WeBlog/
Being the curious soul that I am, I decided to grab the latest code from Subversion and try to get it running on the latest Sitecore 6.5.0 Update-1. The primary difficulty I had was the lack of an up-to-date package ZIP to get the items into a clean Sitecore database (the WeBlog-pre 2.0.0.zip in Subversion was pretty out of date). I powered through and I think I’ve found all of the Sitecore items that needed to be updated. WeBlog does appear to be working, at least. :)
Figure 1 - The WeBlog tab in the Page Editor ribbon
So what’s new? Hard for me to say because I actually haven’t kept up on EviBlog development… So some of these features may be new to me, but not new to WeBlog. The first thing I noticed is the integration with Sitecore’s page editor. There is now a “WeBlog” tab in the ribbon with icons for creating new blogs, creating categories within a blog, or posting a new blog entry (see Figure 1). I only tried this as an admin user, so I don’t know how the security is set up on these buttons - but I imagine it’s possible to hide the new blog button from non-admins. However, restricting who can post to an individual blog doesn’t appear to be included and seems like it would be rather complicated to implement using Sitecore security. Maybe WeBlog needs a field on the Blog template to let you specify a security Role allowed to create new entries and they could check that when the New Entry button is clicked?
Figure 2 - Administration component
The next new thing I noticed was an Administration component at the bottom of the right rail (Figure 2). This only appears while in Edit mode and currently only allows you to modify what theme the blog is using. I couldn’t get this to work at all (changing the value in the drop-down caused the page to post back, but the change wasn’t reflected and it wasn’t possible to click the Save icon in the ribbon). An admin function might be better implemented using an EditFrame with a button to open the field editor. It looks like they’re already doing this with the “Blog” button in the “Settings” chunk in the ribbon.
Speaking of themes, WeBlog comes with a few but they are all just color variations of the same basic theme. It would be nice to see how flexible the mark-up and styling is - hopefully someone good at CSS can produce a really different looking theme to show off the capabilities. As far as how themes are implemented, they appear to just be a Sitecore item with one field pointing to a .CSS file on disk.
Additional new features include CAPTCHA support (with a built-in option as well as reCAPTCHA), and AddThis support for Facebook like buttons, a Tweet button (along with a counter), and the usual AddThis drop down to support other sharing possibilities (I see a sublayout for ShareThis too, but don’t know what it takes to get it working or if it’s global or can be configured per-blog).
In this build, some things definitely don’t work the way I’d expect. When I add a new entry to my blog in page editor using the “New Entry” button in the ribbon, it prompts me for the name of the new entry, but then doesn’t navigate me to the entry so that I can edit it (I suspect this may be due to WeBlog using the NewsMover module to move it into a year/month folder structure maybe). Also, the new entry doesn’t show up in the list of entries on the blog’s main page when it re-loads. If I force a refresh, it shows up and I can click on it to get to the entry and edit it. I already mentioned the non-working Administration component. WeBlog is still pre-release software, so I can’t ask for much… I just wanted to check it out since it’s been a while. It looks really good and I can’t wait to try out the release - hopefully coming soon!