Pebble Rocks

(I’m going to try and stick to the original post which was very favourable, even though I posted it inside Pebble and Acegi redirected me to the login page without holding onto the post in a session. Gone. Sigh. This time I use Performancing 🙂

So after a series on how I set up Pebble, it’s probably a good idea to give it a review. I really like it – from the user interface perspective it is very slick and easy to use. It has a bunch of features but still sufficiently simple. Considering its a milestone it’s quite stable.

The main area it is lacking is documentation. That seems to be the primary work in progress at the moment and I’m hopeful as what is there is quite good. However, I don’t understand why it is only available under the webapp. I couldn’t get it running far enough to view the docs on Windows, and google just points at the old docs which now 404 on Sourceforge. Dropping the help system onto the Pebble website prominently would help a lot.

I’d definitely suggest more examples in the docs, especially in regard to configuring Acegi. Currently, it just points to the Acegi site and its documentation is reference in the rawest form – written such that it is easiest to understand after you already know what it means. The examples in there that I looked at were out of context and without explanation.

I did find I needed to code read quite a bit to get Pebble to where I wanted it to be, which I hope would change with docs. Better logging would also help – there is very little info in the server logs, especially about what it was doing at the time when an error occurs.

Still, it was good to get familiar with the code. The architecture is quite good, though I’m still no fan of Spring. I kept seeing things and thinking it would be much cleaner with Plexus 🙂 The current architecture we are working under is Plexus and WebWork (soon Struts Action 2) which I’m very happy with and I keep wishing everything was using it.

So, wishlist time:

  • I’d like to edit posts with wiki text, not HTML. Something really useful here would be to bring in the Maven Doxia framework (maybe via a plugin) to render the blog content, allowing you to use HTML, XDOC, APT, Confluence Markup, etc and render it all out to HTML.
  • I’d like to have some macros or markup in the editing for handling source code: an appropriate scrolling styled div and syntax highlighting.
  • multi-user seemed to be an after thought and could be improved. I’d like to see finer grained security and more configuration (so that the overall blog is like the individual blog in terms of aggregated categories and tags, configuration of the number of entries to show, and so on).
  • I’d also like to be able to aggregate external feeds for planet like functionality.
  • The admin interface needs to have a fallback or do away with the normal template. Currently, if there is an error rending a blog entry or you’ve mucked up the web editable JSPs, you can’t get back in to fix it. You have to log in to the server, recover the error, and sometimes restart the application server.

I’ll have to get over to the tracker and file some of these. All in all, this was a worthwhile move – congrats to Simon for his work on Pebble.

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