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A new Thingamablog is here!

thingamablog logo

After nearly two years, version 1.5b1 is released.

September 10, 2009 - After almost two long years I was convinced that Thingamablog was dead so I don't know what inspired me to visit the Thingamablog site this morning. But there, lo and behold posted just 10 hours earlier was a new version of Thingamablog along with a new domain registered and a promise to get the forums back up and running! Yay!

Eagerly, I downloaded and installed the new version - 1.5b1. Here is my take on it:

   ...read more...

Installation

  • The first thing I noticed, from reading the EULA, is that Thingamablog is now freeware instead of open source. What this means to the average user is that they will no longer have access to the source code, which I imagine will not be such a big deal to most. I've suggested to Bob many times that he take Thingamablog commercial. Perhaps these are his first tentative steps towards that end.
  • The default target install folder is the same as the folder for my currently installed version (1.1b4) of Thingamablog. So when installing I changed the default path to: C:\Program Files\Thingamablog2
  • There is a nice new logo.

Under the Hood

  • According to the readme, the minimum required JRE version is now 1.6
  • Yikes! There's been a huge jump in the HSQL database version! From 1.7.1 to 1.8.0.9. And I couldn't even find that version on sourceforge. (The closest I could find was 1.8.0.10)
  • After installation was complete, I started "New Thingamablog" for the first time. The first thing that happened was that Thingamablog asked me what my new "profile" should be called and where it should be placed on my disk. I quickly realized that a "profile" in 1.5b1 is what a "database" was called in 1.1b4. This seemingly minor change will clear up a lot of confusion for current users of Thingamablog. Here's why:
    • In old Thingamablog, you had a database often called Thingamablog, which contained a folder called database, which in turn contained your HSQL database. Everything was called database!
    • Now you have a profile probably called ThingaProfile, which contains a folder called data, which in turn contains your HSQL database. Much easier to understand!
  • I have no idea how labels are handled when using an existing 1.7.1 database. I can't even find the labels table in the database. And I have no idea how extra fields are handled at all.

Main GUI

  • The newsreader is now closable. This is good for people who don't need the built in newsreader, like me. I've tried to need it over the years but could never really make it useful for me
  • I opened up my existing profile, which contains my nine active weblogs. There are quite a few user interface changes - from the tasks window relocated to a tab, to the new "recent entries" box. It's all very intuitive and pretty. Right away I noticed that if you select the "current" folder under a weblog in the left-side tree pane, the sort order of the entries list (right-side) now stays between sessions! Yay! It always drove me nuts to constantly have to sort by "Date Posted" every time I started Thingamablog...
  • The push-pins no longer change from red to blue if you modify a previously modified entry. Aw. I loved those blue push-pins...
  • A little thing, but you can now access Authors from the left-side tree pane.
  • I notice that now when you open an image from the web folder in the left-side tree pane, it opens in the system default image viewer. Before it used to open in a Thingamablog built-in viewer.
  • Theme packs, like "posting from email" is also in this version of Thingamablog. I don't think that this was ever satisfactorily documented, And theme packs simply do what a savvy user could do already, namely zip up templates and root web media files.
  • Publishing is now a very sexy process, but I notice that Thingamablog didn't flick over to the tasks tab when I hit "republish all." I had to manually select that tab; an agonizing and laborious extra click.

Editor Window(s)

  • As for the new template editor and entry editor, I can only say Holy COW! The editor windows have undergone a huge overhaul.
    • They're tabbed now instead of windowed. It's real nice. Real nice! Right now, if the entry tab is active and you open the template editor, that becomes tab number three (the tasks tab is tab #2.) Now if you close the template editor tab, you are placed back onto tab #2, the tasks tab, even though you most probably want to be back to tab one (main tab) I think that it would be better if new tabs were inserted to the right of the current tab, rather than simply placed in the right-most position of the MDI...
    • It's nice now to be able to add new categories now from within the Entry Editor window. Before, you had to exit the editor to add a new category, then go back into the entry editor to check it off.
    • In the Entry Editor window, you can now add "extra fields", categories, and labels to your Entry pages. I think TAMB turns these into TAMB variables (like <$>) however because there is currently no help file, and the templates haven't been updated, I have no idea how to actually use these on the parsed out pages...
    • Boy, the swing pane editor thingee is really improved. You can now check spelling as you type!

Settings

  • There are many big changes on the "Configure Weblog" front
    • A big change is that under Archiving, the day interval can now be set to a maximum of 50,000! (previously it was 999) This is an awesome development for those who don't want their archives split into pieces...
    • I know alot of people requested this: Under Entry Pages, now the entry file name can contain the entry title (up to 255 chars). Many feel that this makes their site's pages more SEO friendly. Bob's implementation of this is really simple and elegant as well because regardless of what you choose, the database remains unchanged! If you choose this new option, Thingamablog merely parses out the entry page title as the filename. Only the <$) changes. The <$> tag stays the same, which is nice for all of my PHP scripts that rely on it
    • If you have two posts with identical titles, TAMB appends the Entry ID number to subsequent titles to prevent duplications. In my test-case a "-5" was added.
    • Also under Entry Pages there is the option: Organize Pages in subdirectories. I couldn't get this to do anything in my test setup
    • Small bug. With the site selected in the the left-side tree pane, you can click on "Configure Weblog settings" (on the right-side) until the cows come home and nothing will happen. You have to click the icon on the toolbar/button bar, or select it from the Blog menu.

Overall, though this release is looooong overdue, there are tons of groovy new features. It's certainly worthy of the minor version number increment, Kudos to Bob!

Update!

September 11, 2009 - Ummm. The more I play with this new TAMB, the more I realize I should wait for a higher beta number...

During publish, something is blowing away the contents of the temp folder under the weblog folder when I publish.

  • The last profile opened value is now stored on the C:\drive under %APPDATA%\Thingamablog and I can't figure out how to make TAMB store it elsewhere.
  • Your super-vital-important database does get updated when running it with the new TAMB. If you don't back it up first, there is no way to "downgrade" back to 1.1b4...
A new Thingamablog is here!

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