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What is the LambdaPress?

This page is produced by something which I've jokingly called (the) LambdaPress, a short newLISP script that generates web pages in a timely fashion. If you're reading this, then the 'LambdaPress' has flexed a few lambdas and shaken a few s-expressions, and managed to output a bit of marked-up text as a result.

It's hard to think of names these days. Many of the basic ones have been taken, and the harder you try, the less pleasing the names become. Being devoid of inspiration, I decided to try something a bit like TypePad, WordPress, MoveableType, with a Lisp-y flavour. Since LambdaPress was an Antegooglewhackblatt at the weekend, I used that as a working term. It will probably change to something more sensible.

I saw this article about writing your own blogging software only after I'd finished an early prototype last week. I think I agree with the basic idea, but of course I had managed to ignore most of the sensible advice and had just hacked my way through to some basic functionality. Some of the features seem too hard to do.

I had originally planned on using the newLISP-wiki for the Blogger replacement. The wiki is a remarkable package, cramming a lot of functionality into a small space. But after playing with it for a while I decided to write something from scratch.

Why? First, and most important, because it's fun to do things in your own way, sometimes. Second, the wiki has more features than I needed just for publishing some text. Third, I wanted to make various small changes to the wiki code, which was both difficult and undesirable. Difficult because I wasn't too sure what was going on, and undesirable because I didn't want to make a degraded copy that couldn't be upgraded when or if a new version was released.

The original idea of the 'LambdaPress' (still in quotes - I'm not convinced about the name) was that the posts could be stored in an SQLite database, and the newLISP code would simply do a few queries and output the results enclosed in a few

s. That way, all sorts of things were easy, and most of the effort would be on the formatting and presentation.

In the end, that's exactly how it worked. My previous blog was exported from Blogger (not that difficult, although it involved changing lots of settings and then changing them back again). It was easily imported into a database, using a short newLISP script, of course. The basic query code was simple too. The difficult bits were:

  • learning about CGI
  • getting the CSS styles to look half decent (I haven't even tried looking at the site on Windows yet)
  • getting the permissions on the hosting computers correct (they're still not right...)
  • getting the Atom feed to work properly (it's still not working - it keeps saying the posts are new when they're not!)

So this is version 0.0.1, an alpha, a work-in-progress. I hope to put the script in a downloads section soon so that you can suggest improvements.


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