ralphm's blog

Sunday, 25 September 2005

Mimír gets a new layout

Throwing things around...

Lately I've been doing some work on Mimír, and this week I silently launched a brand new layout. I replaced the remaining HTML tables with proper div, made a new stylesheet and worked on the logo.

As you can probably tell, the new layout is Plone inspired, with the navigation bar featuring tabs. Moving the navigation from the left to top leaves more horizontal space for items. Also, the grouping of the different pages, personal settings and controls is much clearer now. The logo now is just the text Mimír in a nice font suggested by online intosi and the guy has been promoted to Mimír's mascotte. In his location in the top banner, he reads his news while more news is being thrown at him. I think this nicely represents what Mimír does. Thanks to sneakin for suggesting this.

Last but not least, I created a nice, unobtrusive background of news papers flying around. All in all, I'm pretty happy with the new layout, although I still have to get a bit used to it, after having used the old layout for almost three years. I still have to update the screenshots in the manual, but the interaction with the site hasn't really changed. As always, keep those suggestions coming.

Tuesday, 13 September 2005

Mimír upgrades

Shiny new stuff...

Over the past few months, I've been quietly reworking some parts of Mimír. One of the changes was the aggregator replacement (see the architectural overview for reference). The other part is the news bot, that consumes publish-subscribe notifications, stores items in its database and sends out messages to end users. To replace the Perl implementation of this component, a brand new one has been written in Python using the Twisted framework.

Why these replacements? First of all, there were a number of issues with the old implementations, mostly dealing with faults in interpreting incoming items. This sometimes resulted in the news page being horribly deformed. That should be fixed now. The aggregator cleans up all bad HTML and the news bot now correctly processes the incoming items without doing erroneous extra entity unescaping.

Secondly, having these new implementations makes it easier to change the format of the publish-subscribe message to conform to Atom over XMPP. Among other advantages, that would solve getting duplicates because of changing URI schemes, and allow for new features like linking to item enclosures in the Mimír messages, like sneakin suggested recently. Another feature could be a preference to only get item summaries in notifications or pure publish-subscribe notifications instead of the text messages Mimír sends now.

Another change to Mimír is the addition of an actual Mimír logo, contributed by online Intosi. Thanks for that! I added the text part, but that might still change. The news paper reading guy stays for sure, though.