21 Mar 2007 robogato   » (Master)

Advogato Status Report

New mod_virgule code is live today on Advogato. See the changelog for the details. No new release yet, though. I'm hoping I'll find time to finish up a couple of additional things before the next release.

The feed aggregator can now handle RSS/ATOM feeds that include the blog content as unescaped XHTML within the feed XML tree instead of as escaped content within a single XML node. This seems like a risky approach since the slightest markup error in the blog's XHTML renders the whole feed invalid and unparsable. Worse, the particular ATOM feed that brought this problem to light, generated by blogger, appears to randomly alternate between the two methods. One post is carried as normal escaped content within the entry node and the next is shoved in as an unescaped tree of XHTML tags. But who am I to argue with blogger? If it exists in the wild and doesn't appear to violate the standards, I'll try to make mod_virgule handle it correctly.

I've added support for the foaf:mbox_sha1sum field in the FOAF files output by mod_virgule. This field is an SHA-1 hash of the user email address. It's used as an identifier by some FOAF applications. There is also a group working on a SpamAssassin plugin and email whitelist database that will use trust metrics and FOAF data collected from community sites like Advogato. The email field in the user profile used to be optional, so if you're an old time Advogato user, check your profile and make sure your email address is included. Actually, everyone ought to make sure their email address is current, just in case you need to use the password reminder some day.

Blog (diary) pages are now template based rather than hard coded HTML generated by mod_virgule. The blog page template includes the new page header.

Barbara Irwin of the Victoria Linux Users Group emailed to let us know they've added Advogato to the Loads of Linux Links (LOLL) directory. The LOLL directly looks like an interesting collection of Linux links. Check it out.

Google turned down Advogato's Summer of Code mentor application. While disappointing, this didn't come as a total shock. There's no official organization behind mod_virgule, it's a very small project, and it still seems to be viewed as dead or dying by a few people. That's okay, maybe next year. In the meantime, I'm going to continue working to bring mod_virgule up to date.

There are several badly needed features that are going to require some major code refactoring and code cleanup. One of the Summer of Code ideas was directly related to this. The existing code base desperately needs improved commenting and documentation. I'd really like to see the comments normalized to Doxygen style and comments added to all the currently uncommented sections of the code. Having better comments and documentation would really help with future refactoring of the code and would also lower the barrier for new developers who need to understand how mod_virgule works. Any volunteers? Adding and rewriting code comments doesn't require extensive programming skill (though you will need to be able read and understand some less than beautiful C code).

There are other SoC mod_virgule ideas that I'd still like to see someone help with. Even without Google funding, it's still good experience and might even be fun. If you think you might be interested in helping out, take a look at the ideas list and let me know.

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New Advogato Features

New HTML Parser: The long-awaited libxml2 based HTML parser code is live. It needs further work but already handles most markup better than the original parser.

Keep up with the latest Advogato features by reading the Advogato status blog.

If you're a C programmer with some spare time, take a look at the mod_virgule project page and help us with one of the tasks on the ToDo list!