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Sunday, November 14, 2004

Generator for Reading List Available

Yesterday I put the new version of the reading list into production. The cross-linked document tree and RSS feed are automatically generated from a single chronological list by a purpose-built Perl program. The Perl program doesn't use any modules for HTML, XML, RSS, etc.--it's pure old-fashioned text bashing, although it will require a modern version of Perl--I developed it on 5.8.0. I'll eventually add a download link on the reading list page, but as I'm still finding and fixing little things, I'll hold off until it settles down a bit more. If you'd like to preview the current state of things, you can download the archive; this location will remain the same when it's posted on the reading list page.

I seriously considered using Movable Type to manage the reading list, but after several experiments (which is why the syntax I use for the reading list database bears such a strong resemblance to a Movable Type import file), I decided it would be easier to accomplish precisely what I wanted with my own generator. Certainly, with sufficient templates and plug-ins, I could have made Movable Type do the job, but my judgment was that it would end up taking more work and be more difficult to maintain in the future, and having finished the project I don't regret the course I took.

This project goes much deeper into CSS2 style sheets than anything I've done before. I did most of my testing with Mozilla Firefox 1.0 and, of course, Exploder, and tweaked things so nothing falls on its face with either. There may be some problems with older, buggy browsers, but as far as I know everything I've used is employed by myriad Movable Type Web logs, so I expect the results, if infelicitous, to be at least legible. Yes, I've tested the new version with Lynx; it works fine.

Posted at November 14, 2004 23:24