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This is the web diary for nfoWorks and realization of the Harmony Principles. Pursuing Harmony tracks nfoWorks research, analysis, specification, and implementation of tools for document interoperability. There is commentary on related activities that address conformance, interoperability, and harmonization of document formats.



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2008-10-15

 

Content Assembly for nfoWorks?

Also from the Cover Pages: XML Daily Newslink for 2008-10-14, there is word of jCAM, an open-source, Java-based CAM XML Processor and Template Editor.  The SourceForge Project has the software; the web site has more information and tutorials.

The focus of the OASIS Content Assembly Mechanism (CAM) TC is on information management of XML documents used for business transactions.  What attracts my attention is that

“The vision of the CAM work is for describing machine-processable information content flows into and out of XML structures … .”

Some of the lingo is opaque to me, but I do have interest in automated approaches that involve

  • integration with metadata semantics
  • registration of metadata vocabularies
  • documentation of information exchange formats
  • validation of transaction instances
  • runtime creation of valid transaction documents

I may have problems in the validation and filtering of documents and test suites that are not at the proper scale for CAM.  I do think it is worth examining for ideas and applicable techniques.  This is my placeholder reminder for that.

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2008-09-07

 

Document Interoperability: The Web Lesson

"are there alternatives to google groups search for searching old USENET messages? because groups date fielded search is teh broken."

-- Richard Akerman on Twitter, 2008-08-31 

Be prepared for a dramatic shift in the reality of web-site browsing and the honoring of web-page standards.   The pending release of Microsoft Internet Explorer 8 is going to put the reality of web standards and their loose adherence in our faces.  Although Internet Explorer is indicted as the archetypical contributor to disharmony on the web, Internet Explorer 8 is going to challenge all of us to deal with the reality of our mutual contribution to the current state of affairs.

Here is a lesson, probably many lessons, for document interoperability and the way that standards for document formats evolve and harmonize, or not, over time.

The Web as Clinical Science

The movement from loosely-standard pages and their browsing to strictly-standard pages and standards-mode browsing will illustrate every aspect of the same challenge for office-productivity documents and the office suites that process them. 

Web pages are the experimental drosophilae of digital documents.  All aspects of dynamic convergence on standards, themselves evolving, and the forces of divergence, are demonstrated clearly and rapidly.  I expect it to take Internet generations for significant convergence, with no static level of standards adherence anywhere in sight.  It took us almost 20 years to get to this point on the Web; I figure it will take at least five more to dig out of it far enough to claim that there is a standards-based web in existence and in practice.  I'm optimistic, considering that HTML 5, the great stabilization, is not expected to achieve W3C Recommendation status until 2012.

No document-interoperability convergence effort is anywhere close to the promising situation of the web as Internet Explorer 8, HTML5 implementations, and other compatibility-savvy browsers roll out over the next several years.  It is useful to use that situation to calibrate how convergence and interoperability could work for document interoperability.  There are significant technical barriers.  The non-technical barriers are the most daunting.  That should be no surprise.

Versioning in Document Use

I've written on Orcmid's Lair about the IE 8.0 Disruption.  This involves changes in Internet Explorer 8.0 by which web pages are rendered in standards-mode on the assumption that pages are conformant with applicable web standards.  In the past, it was presumed that pages were loosely-standard and browsers, also loosely-standard, made a kind of best effort to present the page.  The consequences have been explained marvelously in Joel Spolski's post on Martian Headsets.

We are similarly relying on document-format standards as a way to provide for many-to-many interchange and interoperability between different (implementations of versions of) document-format standards and different (implementations of versions of) processors of those digital documents.  That means we have a version of the loosely-standard documents with loosely-standard processing problem.  We can't be strictly standard because the standards can't (and definitely don't) have strict implementations at the moment; and there are many ways that specifications and implementations have been kept loose by design.  Accompanying that looseness by design is the the simple fact of immaturity among the contending document-format standards for office applications, particularly as vehicles for interoperable applications.

For office-productivity documents as we know and love them, there are five, count 'em five "official standards." 

The "Official" Public Standards of Office Documents

For Office Open XML Format (OOXML), there is the ECMA-376 specification of December 2006.  There is also the ISO/IEC 29500:2008 Office Open XML File Formats standard once it is made available.  IS 29500 will have some substantive differences from ECMA-376.  We won't have a solid calibration of the differences until the IS 29500 specifications are available and subject to extensive review.

For the OpenDocument Format, there is the Open Document Format for Office Applications (OpenDocument) v1.0 OASIS Standard issued 1 May 2005.  There is also the ISO/IEC 26300:2006 Open Document For Office Applications (OpenDocument) v1.0 standard (also on the publicly-available listing).  IS 26300 is for the same format as the OASIS v1.0 standard, but it is on a completely-separate standards progression.  Appendix E.3 accounts for the differences of IS 26300 from the text of the May 2005 OASIS Standard.  The first page of the IS 26300:2006 document (page 5 of the PDF) identifies its source as Open Document Format for Office Applications (OpenDocument) v1.0 (Second Edition) Committee Specification 1, dated 19 July 2006, derived from document file OpenDocument-v1.0ed2-cs1.odt; this is not another OASIS Standard, however.

The second and latest OASIS Standard for ODF is Open Document Format for Office Applications (OpenDocument) v1.1 issued 2 February 2007.  This document is derived from OpenDocument v1.0 (Second Edition) Committee Specification 1, the same specification that is the source of content for ISO/IEC 26300:2006.  The changes made to arrive at ODF v1.1 from the v1.0 (Second Edition) committee specification are detailed in Appendix G.4.  There are some mildly-breaking changes from ODF v1.0 to ODF v1.1, mostly of a clarification or correction nature.  There are a few additional features that have no down-level counterparts in ODF v1.0.

A third OASIS Standard, ODF v1.2, is under development.  The current drafts, using a very-different organization from v1.1, are available as pubic documents of the OASIS Open Document TC. 

We can expect to see more versions of ODF and of OOXML at their various standards venues.  We'll be watching here on nfoWorks as the situation becomes even more chaotic.  Notice that this diversity ignores the variety of divergent implementations of the various specifications.

Format Versions that Live Forever

It is possible for one document-format specification to officially supplant another, with the older specification deprecated.  That has not been done so far with any of the five-and-growing document-format specifications, any more than it has been done for most of the versions of HTML specifications that have been recommendations of the W3C (and IETF before the development track moved entirely to W3C). 

For example, the last full-up specification for HTML, the HTML 4.01 W3C Recommendation of 24 December 1999, has this to say about its immediate predecessor: "This document obsoletes previous versions of HTML 4.0, although W3C will continue to make those specifications and their DTDs available at the W3C Web site."  This was possible because HTML 4.0 was young and there were important defects that 4.01 cured.

The HTML 4.01 specification continues with the following recommendation: "W3C recommends that user agents and authors (and in particular, authoring tools) produce HTML 4.01 documents rather than HTML 4.0 documents. W3C recommends that authors produce HTML 4 documents instead of HTML 3.2 documents. For reasons of backward compatibility, W3C also recommends that tools interpreting HTML 4 continue to support HTML 3.2 [W3C Recommendation 14 January 1997] and HTML 2.0 [IETF rfc1866 November 1995 and the IETF-obsoleting rfc2854 June 2000] as well." 

The XHTML branch of specifications, originally derived from HTML 4.01, were intended as the basis for a future generation. 

Meanwhile, there has been work toward both XHTML 2 and HTML 5.0

HTML 5.0 is currently intended to exist alongside XHTML 1.x and its newer arrangements while also absorbing XHTML 1.x to some degree (by having an XML form).  The current HTML 5.0 draft specifies legacy processing (in its HTML-syntax form) for variations of over 60 HTML DOCTYPE DTD flavors, extending back to HTML 1.0 and other variants.  The intention is to converge HTML and XHTML 1.x under a consistent HTML 5 processing model with only no-quirks, some-quirks, and quirks modes.  This is also intended to end the variation and extension of HTML (not XHTML) by capturing <!DOCTYPE HTML> for its own and having a concrete HTML syntax that is fully-divorced from both SGML and XML.  It is important to point out that HTML 5 is not going to eliminate the divergence that browser (user-agent) plug-in models, plug-in implementations and scripting systems (especially client side) bring to the mix.

Document-format versions are not easily abandoned.  Even if production of a format is deprecated, consumption of the format may need to continue into the indefinite future, and certainly so long as emitters of deprecated formats have significant usage.  The W3C progression of HTML is at a point where that is fully-recognized and being honored in reaching toward an HTML 5 plateau sometime in the next decade.

Considering this promising stabilization, when would I manage to change all of my web sites and blogs to clean HTML 5 pages?  Not until I know that visits to those sites are only a small fraction of Internet Explorer versions prior to IE8 (or maybe IE9) and other browsers lacking full-up standards-mode processing.  Fortunately, the HTML 5 specification-effort promises to show me exactly how to do that in a mechanical way.  I am looking forward to automated assistance.  In my case, I'll also have the benefit of my IE 8.0 mitigation effort.  Other web sites may require other approaches, and user browser choice will involve important trade-offs for some time. 

I am surprised by the number of people who operate multiple browsers.  Although I operate multiple products for office applications these days, that's mostly to explore their interoperable use, not to ensure ability to interchange documents (well, not until I joined OASIS and the ODF TC).  I've been a serial adopter of Internet Explorer versions since IE 2.0.  As a typical late-adopter, I may finally branch out now just to have a better calibration of the migration to standards-based sites and browsers for them.

This is an important lesson for the management of the expanding variety of specifications of formats for office-application documents, formats of which HTML packagings are sometimes one of the flavors.

Reconciling office-application document-format versions does not promise to be so easy as the current effort to stabilize HTML for the web.

The Looseness of Document Specifications

Of course, OOXML and ODF are not close dialects off a single family tree, as HTML variants might be treated (and HTML 5 demonstrates, if successful).  In addition, the current specifications are not for same-conformance, interchangeable-everywhere documents:

  • There are weak conformance requirements.  It is not necessary to implement any particular amount of the specified format: OOXML or ODF.  This is by design.  I don't expect that to change.  There is also no way to indicate how much or how little is accepted and/or produced.  Well, you could look to see what software produced the document, using ODF as our example:

<office:document-meta
    xmlns:office="urn:oasis:names:tc:opendocument:xmlns:office:1.0"
    xmlns:meta="urn:oasis:names:tc:opendocument:xmlns:meta:1.0"
    office:version="1.2">
  <office:meta>
    <meta:generator>
        OpenOffice.org/3.0_Beta$Win32 OpenOffice.org_project/300m3$Build-9328
    </meta:generator>
  </office:meta>
</office:document-meta>

This strikes me as even less appealing than the challenge of sites adjusting for browsers and browsers adjusting to HTML DOCTYPE declarations (and their absence).
   
It is not encouraging that the office:version attribute and <meta:generator> element are both optional.  It is unfortunate that the office:version attribute is generally uninformative about the processing requirements for the document file in hand, serving merely as an automatic claim of one specification the document conforms to.  The document is also likely to conform to earlier versions and probably alter later versions, although it is unclear how we can determine that easily for a given document representation.

  • Arbitrary "foreign" elements are allowed.  I'm not clear how IS 29500 for OOXML will allow for this kind of thing, but the ODF specifications are justly-notorious for this provision (ODF 1.1, section 1.5):
      
    "Documents that conform to the OpenDocument specification may contain elements and attributes not specified within the OpenDocument schema. Such elements and attributes must not be part of a namespace that is defined within this specification and are called foreign elements and attributes.
      
    "Conforming applications either shall read documents that are valid against the OpenDocument schema if all foreign elements and attributes are removed before validation takes place, or shall write documents that are valid against the OpenDocument schema if all foreign elements and attributes are removed before validation takes place.
      
    "Conforming applications that read and write documents may preserve foreign elements and attributes."
      

    There are some further wrinkles and this proviso:
      
    "Foreign elements may have an office:process-content attribute attached that has the value true or false. If the attribute's value is true, or if the attribute does not exist, the element's content should be processed by conforming applications. Otherwise conforming applications should not process the element's content, but may only preserve its content. If the element's content should be processed, the document itself shall be valid against the OpenDocument schema if the unknown element is replaced with its content only."
      

    As a developer, I love gimmicks like this.  But, basically, this only works with processors that re-encounter document files that they themselves produced.  Anything more coherent requires that the implementers of different processors form some sort of out-of-band, separate-from-the-standard interoperability agreement on particular foreign elements and handling of office:process-content attributes.  Users, confident that their software is "standard," will have frustrating and inexplicable interchange experiences (unless the usual thing is done and everyone agrees to lock in on the same software [version], surprise, surprise).

    OOXML has a versioning scheme that might provide controlled extensions that degrade usefully when processed by implementations of down-level specification versions.  It is unclear at this point whether this is just a more complicated way to end up with the same interoperability problems.

  • Some features require foreign content.   Both OOXML and ODF have features where content is represented by a binary-data part elsewhere in the package.  There is little (OOXML) or no (ODF) indication of what the format of the binary element is and what MIME types are allowed for such document components.  All use of those features and any interchange agreements about them are beyond the current provisions of the relevant document-format standards.
      
    There are other places where implementation-defined values are expected and are expected to be preserved by other implementations.

  • Some values and default selections are implementation-specific.  I was mining in the ODF specification the other day.  I did not expect to find attributes having text on these patterns:
       
    "The value of this attribute is implementation [or application] specific."
      
    "If this attribute is not present, the application might or might not display [whatever]."

    These are relatively minor considering the amount of variability from the other conditions already mentioned.  What's curious about these is the elevation of particular implementation-specific features as specification-favored. In the case of implementation-specific attribute values, there is also the interesting problem of a processor determining whether such a value is intended to have its implementation-specific interpretation or not.  It appears that the related features will only be useful under tightly-restricted interchange conditions.
      
    I will not be surprised to find similar looseness in the OOXML specification, IS 29500.

Prospects for Interoperable Convergence

We already have before us difficulties with interoperable convergence of individual progression of a single standard and its variety of implementation.  This makes the prospect of harmonization between different standard formats rather murky.

Desktop office-application software has more promise with regard to application of Postel's Law, to be liberal in what is accepted and conservative in what is produced.  Unfortunately, the current specifications do not require conservative, interoperable implementations; the current specifications are arguably antagonistic to such an achievement.

I suspect that this is an unintended consequence mixed with some inattention to what it takes for interoperability to be achievable. 

It remains to see how our experience and understanding matures.   We are at the beginning, not the finish.  The journey may seem endless.


The process of IE 8.0 mitigation and preparation for a standards-mode approach to web browsing impacts this site and blog as well as every other web page I have ever posted (somewhere over 120MB worth and climbing).

I'm not going to say anything more about IE 8.0 mitigation and HTML harmonization here.  The overall effort will be tracked in that category of Professor von Clueless posts; that's the place to follow along.  The lesson for document interoperability is something that is definitely appropriate for Pursuing Harmony; there'll be much more to say about that.

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2008-08-19

 

... Tweaking the Sidebar ...

I can't stand some things about the sidebar, and I must fix them now (template versions 0.04-0.05):

  • The differences in font colors and weights between headings on the sidebar and the main body are repulsive.  The body heading colors work fine. [0.04 partway there]
      
  • There is no list of recent posts (and how did I miss that?).  I am cribbing that from Orcmid's Lair.  [0.04 addition; 0.05 some appearance improvement]
      
  • I may as well grab a list of related blogs while I am doing that. [0.04 addition; 0.05 some appearance improvement]
      
  • I need to set the sequence on the model I am accustomed to as well:
    • Description, to be simpler, maybe smaller type
    • Atom feed indicator and symbol [0.04 addition]
    • Associated Blogs list [0.04 addition]
    • Blogger badge [0.04 move]
    • Search badge
    • Replacement of profile with smaller picture, blogs that link here, view my profile and technorati badge
    • ClustrMap [0.04 addition]
    • Recent Items [0.04 addition]
    • Archive [0.04 change - still need to fix fonts and appearance]
         
  • I am self-hosting this blog, so the internationalization of static headings is irrelevant and I can simplify styles further [0.04 start]

I need to be careful and not attempt too much of this all at once.   This is going to be one of those pages that I will probably update as I make progress.

Update 2008-08-20T23:54Z: A set of provisional changes are made with template version 0.04 with the idea of tweaking further after seeing the template at work.

Update 2008-08-21T01:07Z: The biggest change is to get rid of link underlining and use bold-face as well as an improved link color.  This and some minor layout adjustments are accomplished with template version 0.05.  I am going to let those sit there for a while until I see how to make the layout more pleasant still.

Update 2008-08-21T01:14Z: The changes work better if I save the new template to Blogger after previewing it.

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Agreement on Document Rendering

One problem for harmonization of document-format implementations in the case of ODF and OOXML is the degree to which those specifications may provide inadequate specification of how documents are to be presented in order for implementations to be adequately interoperable.  This situation arises between implementations of the same format as well as between different document formats.

Along with establishing clarity on how much agreement in presentation is required, there is the small matter of being able to somehow confirm that an application achieves whatever that level of conformance and interoperability is.

As I suggested in "Interoperable ODF: Finding Ground Truth," there are many difficulties to be conquered in advancing from the current state of affairs to where there is reliable determination that implementations are substitutable in a particular interoperability setting. 

We don't have good ways to even talk about the multiple, interlocking problems that lurk beneath the simple desire to have interchange of documents in standard formats "just work."

It would be helpful, for starters, to at least have a way to describe what a particular document-processing system does in rendering documents that it accepts.  A checklist on the handling of particular features of an electronic document is also useful in determining conformance and interoperability guidance and, perhaps, eventual mechanical verification criteria.

The XML Daily Newslink for 2008-08-18 reports on a contribution that may be useful in this regard, the "First Edition of ISO/IEC 24754: Minimum Requirements for Specifying Document Rendering Systems."  From the scope:

"This International Standard provides an abstract list of the features that a document rendering system may have, thus providing a frame of reference, against which the user and implementor can compare the  features of a document rendering system. However, this International Standard does not direct how each document rendering system should behave.

"This International Standard provides the minimum requirements to specify the features that a document rendering system which transforms formatting objects to rendering output. It may be used as a frame of reference, against which the user, implementer, or software agent may compare the features of a document rendering system.  According to these requirements, the user may express what he or she expects of a document rendering system, the implementer may describe the functionality and capability of the document rendering system that he or she implements, and the software agent may negotiate a minimum set of functionality and capability that are shared across different document rendering system implementations."

The Final Committee Draft (omitting the example in the informative appendix) is available as a 7-page, 74 kB PDF file

Beside the announcement, here's what attracted my attention:

  • The list of features is abstract.  The descriptions of how individual feature are handled would normally be in prose, with possible reference to standards applicable to the feature (e.g., font substitution).
      
  • The document assumes an abstract processing model related to that for SGML and XML.  The presumption is that rendering is specified separately from logical document format and content.  It can, of course, be adapted to the rendering provisions of processors for electronic office documents even though rendering conditions are embedded in the specification for the document format and its elements.  So it is definitely minimal and something to start from.
      
  • This work was initiated in 2005.  The Final Committee Draft download file is dated 2007-10-29; its electronic document was last edited on 2007-01-23.  The standard, ISO/IEC 24754:2008 was published on 2008-08-15.  It costs 96 CHF (about $100 US) and is not (yet?) on the list of publicly-available (i.e., free) standards, last updated on 2008-08-08.

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2008-08-17

 

... Steady as She Goes ...

After having the template tweaks to look at, I am making some more, leading to version 0.03:

  • First, I make an unrelated addition to the RSS feeds, following the advice of Amit Agarwal.  This is meant to deal with situations where the feed is mechanically republished by another site, preserving the origination of the feed item regardless.
    Each feed item will now have this footer:
    <hr /><a href="http://nfoWorks.org/diary/" target="_top" rel="nofollow"> nfoWorks: Pursuing Harmony</a>
      
  • The entire sidebar is right-justified for more-consistent appearance.
      
  • The title of the blog is centered.  Eventually, there will be a logo in the upper-left corner and some links in the upper right.

I've started capturing pages that illustrate the state of the blog at each template revision.  These will be carried under the Blog Operations materials for reference. 

Although I intentionally refrain from republishing the whole site, older archive and post pages will be regenerated from time to time.  Page regeneration, always using the then-latest template, is usually because comments have been posted and sometimes because I provide additional information in an older post (such as links to related recent material).

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2008-08-16

 

Steady, steady ...

While I am preparing for major additions and starting my homework as a new OASIS Open individual member, I am also performing some simple maintenance to the site template (resulting in version 0.02):

  • There is one bit of client-side JavaScript at the bottom of the template that is completely extraneous.  Instead of adding a link to the blog's main page from archive pages, I made all blog pages have links to the main page from the blog title.  There is no longer any JavaScript.
      
  • There were some typos in my modified header that I cleaned up.  These included a double-word occurrence of "Jason" and a missing ":" after a source-control label.
      
  • I moved the description to the sidebar in front of my profile.
     
  • I made everything below the profile on the sidebar right-justified, as is my general preference.
      
  • I removed the dummy links that were in the original template, leaving the Google one for now.
      
  • I moved the blogger badge and the information about the RSS feed to the sidebar also.

The new template previews correctly.  Making this post will apply it to the main page, this individual post, and the archive page that this post is part of.  Older posts have not been republished.  They will continue to be formatted under the previous template, unless they are republished by me or as the result of a comment.  I also backed up the blog to my development system before making the change on Blogger.

I believe there are extraneous cascading style-sheet (CSS) definitions in the <head> section of the template, and I will distill it down gradually.  It is nice that there are no external style sheets, but I want to simplify what is sent to the browser even more.

The development of the fire drill and incident-handling materials is going to go slowly, and I will make more template changes when I need a respite from that and from content-creation activities.

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2008-08-13

 

Weaving the Safety Net

The next series of activities for creation of this blog involve creation of a safety net against my own slip-ups and as a defense in case the blog becomes corrupted at some point.

This work takes up where Ramping Up has now left off. Compulsive knot-hole peepers will find a Construction Zone and Construction Notes on "Pursuing Harmony" Blog Operation.

1. First steps 2008-08-13T23:10Z. The first step is to capture the blog template and keep it in a form that is available under version control any time it is necessary to restore an earlier template:

  • I have switched from FTP to SFTP one more time, just to see if it is now working along with FTP (which took a while before it succeeded).
      
  • After accessing the Blogger dashboard for this blog, the original template is copied into the UTF-8 file default.htm.template.txt. That file is checked into the development folder for http://nfoWorks/diary and placed under version control there.
      
  • Once we have this much we are ready for the next step.

2. Template Cleanup 2008-08-14T00:11Z.  The next step is to clean up the template a slight amount in preparation for further customization:

  • The SFTP transfer is definitely not working.  I reverted to FTP from Blogger to the http://nfoWorks.com/diary directory on the hosted site.
      
  • Browser View of Original Template (click for larger image)The template is backed up.  If viewed in a browser, it may render as HTML  rather than as text.  Using the browser feature for viewing the page's source code will reveal the coded-HTML of the template.
      
  • The template is edited to add the following features:
    • A !DOCTYPE directive is added to the top of the template, specifying HTML 4.01 Transitional, the prevailing format on this site.
    • An HTML comment with version-control label is embedded in the page.
    • A comment with up-to-date revision history is added to the end of the file.
        
  • The text of the cleaned-up template is added to the Blogger account for use in all further posts (including the current version of this one).
     

3. Safety Net Incorporation 2008-08-13T01:23Z.  With a maintainable template backed-up and versioned, there are many improvements called for.  Those are cosmetic and not urgent, however desirable.  Instead, provisions for locking down the blog, repairing/recovering it, and restoring it to operation will be put in place.  The arrangement depends on the site being accessible by the administrator even though the blog is not working properly for some reason.

  • default.firedrill.htm is a replacement for the blog default page when a fire-drill is being carried out (such as one we will have shortly, much like a boat drill carried out before leaving port).
      
  • default.quarantine.htm is a replacement for any page that is effectively quarantined until a remedy is available in its place.  This is typically done as a new version of a blog archive page rather than as a replacement for the default page, although anything is possible.
      
  • default.standby.htm is a replacement for the blog default page when the blog is made inaccessible for some reason.  This is usually put up very quickly, without further details provided until later when there is some assessment of the situation.
      
  • harmony-atom.standby.xml is a substitute for the blog's harmony-atom.xml and rss.xml Atom feed files when there is need to quarantines until a problem can be resolved.
      
  • harmony-atom.testing.xml is a substitute for the two Atom feed files when the feed is blocked for a fire drill or other testing.

These pages are developed as part of the "Pursuing Harmony" Blog Operations material.  That's the next step.  Then we can have our first fire drill.


[update 2008-08-14T14:24Z added an important omitted word.  I'm now back on the out-of-sight work needed in order to perform a successful fire drill.  I forgot how tedious this is.  The previous setup on Orcmid's Lair is old and stale and needs to be refreshed as part of that site's eventual repaving.  Meanwhile, onward ... .]

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2008-08-12

 

Ramping Up

This is an initial post for ramping up the Blogger creation of Pursuing Harmony. The blog will replace the manually-created diary that was first used with nfoWorks. This initial page is created to cause population of the blog, its archives, and the RSS feed.

The blog starts out using Jason Sutter's "Sand Dollars" format, one of the supplied Blogger templates. I will customize that to achieve my preferred style once operation of the blog is confirmed.

Customization happens after blog editing and posting is confirmed to be functioning.

My first problem was attempting to use SFTP. I reverted back to plain-old FTP to make sure the FTP log-in could succeed. This wasn't working the same as previously, so I tried a different path name.  The problem may have been a lag in set-up of the account that I created for Blogger to use in posting to the web site.  After one false-start, it all started working.

1. Update 2008-08-12T21:55Z After succeeding with this initial post, I decided not to use the Blogger NavBar.  If I want to add a search panel for searching the blog and/or the site, I will do that later.

On getting Windows Live Writer working with the site, I attempted to establish an upload directory for images included in the blog.  LiveWriter reported that it could not confirm the URL.  I will make sure the new directory is established and give it a construction structure.  I should then be able to have LiveWriter use it.

I am also going to move the archive directory out of the top-level blog directory, so that backup and maintenance is easier. 

Live Writer reminded me to add tags to this post, and I will do that now too.  I see that the categories work differently and are independent of tags.  I must not be so careless in choosing categories.

2. Update 2008-08-12T23:34Z The archive is moved and the image directory was pre-populated with an index.htm so that Live Writer's concern for the folder was removed.  It is now time to demonstrate that picture uploading works:

3. Update 2008-08-13T00:03Z After I figured out what time it is here (for adjusting to GMT in these little update items), I also managed to correct the URL for where the images are so that, not only are they uploaded, they are also correctly-reachable from the blog post.

My next effort is to make sure that I have a back-up procedure for mirroring the blog content on my development machine along with the other parts of nfoWorks.

After that has concluded, I will need to start working on the template.

Simon's American cousin, the romantic Edwin 4. Update 2008-08-13T00:12Z Well, the Neighborhood Rose images are on the blog site, but Live Writer fails to notice that I corrected the URL in my FTP settings.  So I am linking in the above picture manually.  I will introduce an additional image so that it can upload with the new settings.

Now I can introduce the backup procedure and then start adjusting the template.

5. Update 2008-08-13T00:53Z One concern I had is the automatic creation of subfolders to hold images from separate posts.  I have verified that no subfolder index is available on the server and there is no way to explore the images but via image elements on the blog pages.  That is satisfactory.

6. Update 2008-08-13T20:25Z I have carried out one manual backup.  Before taking the customization to the next level, I have made a couple of simple touch-ups. 

  • The title is changed from "Pursuing Harmony" to "nfoWorks: Pursuing Harmony."
      
  • The little e-mail option down near the comments and links line after each blog is removed.  The e-mail content is so ugly, devoid of formatting and any images, that I prefer people use other means off of the RSS feed or by using their browser to clip and forward pages.

The next step is to construct the safety net and fire-drill procedure for the blog.  It has been some time since a blog has been corrupted, but that is no reason to start operating without a net.

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