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A call to Perl bloggers to come on dev.to

thibaultduponchelle profile image Tib Updated on ・5 min read

Some history

Perl has its own platform for blogging with Perl specifics posts only. It is maybe a particularity of Perl community, even if I'm not sure about that.

From what I know, between 2001 and 2010, Perl developers were initially blogging on use.perl.org that was decommissioned in 2010.

use.perl.org

Then they moved (partially) to blogs.perl.org or as some people call it "BPO".

blogs.perl.org

I like the principle to have a dedicated place where you come to check Perl related posts... but unfortunately there seems to be long standing problems with blogs.perl.org 😕

People report technical problems :

  • Problems with authentication and/or reset password
  • Problems with posting comments
  • Design outdated
  • User experience when writing posts
  • No easy upgrade path since it is based on an old derived/forked version of MovableType

Before I continue, I just wanted to say « thank you » to all volunteers that are running BPO. The imperfections do not remove their effort to bring this valuable platform to the Perl community 👍

BPO revamping trials

There were already TPF 2 grants :

A "grant" is a mission paid by The Perl Foundation

Both grants were trying to migrate to PerlBee that is a blog engine written in Perl.

What went wrong ? What is the difficulty ?

I don't know exactly, but I believe without any doubt that there were several problems that make it not straightforward at all and make these grants fail.

What about now ?

Despite these numerous problems, BPO is up and running, with reduced posting traffic (maybe 5 posts a week).

One of the former admin behind BPO seem pushing to make people migrate elsewhere but without making it read-only or cutting the power (so far). They obviously don't want to invest any support in BPO since it is in a kind of "decommissioning" state.

Are bloggers happy or they tolerates the drawbacks ? I don't know.

I WAS a fervent supporter of keeping this "concept" running...

...until recently 😣

I was even about to drop a new idea on the table of possible replacements, but I finally refrained and time gave me the answer 😄

I will elaborate below.

#MyLife

Concerning blogs, I'm more a reader than a writer, and if I call Perl bloggers to come on DevTo, it is because I'm eager to read your posts.

Anyway, recently I tried to write a bit more.

I found this schema on rakhim.org and I found it very true :)

(I circled where I'm standing)
Blogs

Yes, I wrote a static website generator (in Perl) that is so quick and dirty and not generic that I will never made it public :D

The main part looks like this :

my $n = 0;
sub build_site(\%$) {
    my $p = shift;
    my $dir = shift;
    $indent .= " ";
    for my $k (sort keys %$p) {
        if(ref $p->{$k} eq ref {}) {
            build_site($p->{$k}, "$dir/$k");
        } elsif($p->{$k}) {
            my @s = split('\.', $k);
            my $title =  shift @s;
            my $ext =  shift @s;
            if($ext eq "md") {
                $n++;
                print "Processing $dir/$k... ($n)\n";
                my $body = `perl Markdown.pl $dir/$k`;
                open($FH, ">", "$dir/$title.html");
                print $FH create_head($title);
                print $FH create_header();
                print $FH $menu;
                print $FH create_submenu($dir);
                print $FH $body;
                print $FH $ga;
                print $FH create_footer();
                print $FH create_foot();
                close($FH);
            }
        }
    }
}


build_site(%menu, ".");
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

And I also used hugo and I still use it for instance when contributing to perl.com

I recently also set up a blog using jekyll and github pages

And of course I used a customized-custom theme from Project VeXed

If I "customized" it, it was mainly to make it more "Perlish" 😄

My blog
(do not look for this blog, I killed it some days ago)

Finally I spent the whole paragraph about the setup of blogs so I should get extra points 😄

Elaborate on blog setup

The #MyLife section stops here. The conclusion is that I experimented some solutions before to call people to join me here.

Why I recommend DevTo

The user experience when writing is very good (to be honest, Medium and Wordpress are even better, but it is good enough).

Why not using medium then ? There is no #perl tag and I feel like Medium is less a developer hub than DevTo.

There are also already some traffic here (at least as much as BPO) and some brand names.

The #perl tag is already administrated (by Gabor Szabo ! :))

The format is Markdown which is generally a good point (but not always, I can understand).

The ghetto

BPO is a "Perl ghetto" which is both good and bad. Good because this is a what some readers are actually looking for, and bad because of non exposure to programming world.

When you think that the biggest flaw of Perl is its reputation... 😟

DevTo greatly offers the best of both. Your blog posts are open to broad (technical) audience but the #perl tag fully recreates the "ghetto" use case from an reader point of view (and it really works well).

Conclusion

I'm not the first one to promote DevTo actually, I'm joining the call from Gabor Szabo, Joel Berger and Dave Cross to ask you to build together the future of Perl blogging on DevTo !

Whatever you decide, "Happy Perl !" and please keep posting so I can continue to read you 😄

(I was not paid by DevTo 😄)

Discussion (7)

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matthewpersico profile image
Matthew O. Persico

Not the worst idea in the world.

  • It appears to support proper markdown in the Discussion.
  • We can always post dev.io links in blogs.perl.org anyway.
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smonff profile image
🌌 Sébastien Feugère ☔

I recently started to crosspost on BPO and DevTo. As far as I remember, I started to publish on DevTo before, since in the past I never managed to login on BPO or something but looks like it went better recently. More people of the Perl community came recently on DevTo, but in the early time it was a non-existent thing.

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thibaultduponchelle profile image
Tib Author

Then it's a bit your fault if I'm finally here today 😅

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davorg profile image
Dave Cross

It'll come as no surprise that I'm 100% behind this idea. I think that continuing to blog away in the broken ghetto that is BPO is a terrible idea.

But just to correct a couple of points in your history of BPO.

  • You have the order of the two TPF grants wrong. The Evozon project (coded by Jeff Goff) came first and the Booking project (coded by Andre Walker) was second.
  • I'm no longer one of the admins behind BPO and haven't been for a few months.
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thibaultduponchelle profile image
Tib Author

Thank you for your comment, I fixed the 2 points :)

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thibaultduponchelle profile image
Tib Author

And I forgot to say THANKS to you and others volunteers that were and are maintaining BPO :)

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leontimmermans profile image
Leon Timmermans

Well I was looking for a place that wasn't BPO anyway, so I might as well give DevTo a chance :-)