Mephisto hits 0.8, moves to GitHub

Posted by courtenay | 22 comments

Mephisto 0.8, “Drax”, is out, and the source is now hosted at our friends, Github.

There are many fixes, rewrites and improvements in the codebase, and development is actively continuing! Rather than talk about what’s new, I’m going to gush about git. We’ll cover what’s new in a future post.

Git, and github, allow for truly distributed development, and is a big deal for Mephisto development – as you can see in this graph of activity:

You can download release 0.8 from tarball or git checkout, or live on the edge.

The best thing about using Github is that you can easily fork Mephisto for yourself, or see what other people are working on and help them out. The idea of an ‘official’ repository becomes murky; the canonical repository in distributed source control is more of a convention.

Applying CPR to Mephisto

Posted by rick | 13 comments

I’ve just added the over eager Mark Dagget to the Mephisto Core Team. He’s the author the open source project RAM (Ruby Asset Manager), as well as Pledgie. His main task is keep Mephisto on life support, starting with adding his unreleased but excellent Exception Notifier plugin.

New Contact Feedback Plugin

Posted by rick | 10 comments

James Crisp wrote a nifty Contact Feedback plugin for Mephisto for the new Thoughtworks Studios site. The plugin looks nice, and fills a common need in Mephisto. Also, the Thoughtworks Studios site is extremely well-done. I had seen it before, but didn’t realize it used Mephisto. Major kudos to James Crisp and Thoughtworks!

For anyone that asks: it looks like the main difference between this, and my own feedback plugin is that mine doesn’t send emails. It stores them in the DB and lets you browse in the admin. Nice since your inbox doesn’t get the spam, but I’ve been finding that I often forget to check it :)

Is Mephisto Dead?

Posted by rick | 32 comments

Is Mephisto dead? I see much more Typo activity recently than Mephisto. It’s the same with most open-source Rails apps. Development is cyclothymic – people get excited in the beginning, then slow down (or completely stop) – probably work on some “for pay” project, then get excited again (when the paid project is completed maybe?), then slow down again and so on. Substruct, Collaboa, Typo, RadRails, Project RIDE-ME, Active Merchant and many others… I don’t see this happening in Java world and I miss the “die hard” Java enthusiasm in the Rails community. —Nikolay Kolev, comments on previous article

Nope, it’s been on hold since the end of 2006. Mephisto has a tiny development team, and we’re both busy trying to launch a web service. We have 0 funding, so we’ve basically been devoting our “OSS project time” (and “sleep time”) towards Lighthouse instead.

I’ve found that most of the ‘successful’ open source projects have some source of real funding. Either there’s a company that needs the product enough to fund/hire the team, or they make enough through custom installs or commercial versions. Other than a handful of small consulting gigs and some donations, Mephisto has been purely a labor of love for us.

What’s going on right now:

  • I’m entertaining the idea of extending to the core team, but I don’t feel there’s been anyone that seems interested in devoting the time.
  • However, I’m thinking seriously of extracting a few things out as “official plugins” and opening up access on those small areas. The current candidate is XML-RPC support.
  • There’s a small 0.7.4 update with a few security issues and annoying bugs fixed
  • There’s an edge version with some notable new features (plugin admin, plugin support for RHTML/HAML templates, and soon: a multi-site admin)
  • Once Lighthouse goes out of beta, we’ll have an official bug tracker.
  • Core team doesn’t haven’t to mean “svn commit access” either. It could also mean “ticket overlord” or something.
  • DNS info is currently being transferred to moniker…

However, Justin and I are committed to keeping Mephisto true to its roots. We’re not going to turn it into another bloated CMS, or a community blogging tool. It’s also not a kickstart to your rails app development. It’s strictly going to remain a kick ass publishing tool. Further features/integration should be done through the power of hyperlinks or APIs (exposed through custom Liquid drops).

Mephisto documentation in the works

Posted by rick | 7 comments

Chris Dwan has been spearheading a full documentation effort for Mephisto. It’s far from complete, but there’s already some basic information filled out to get you started. There’s also a spot to ask those tough questions if you find you need some specific help. Everything is implemented in Stikipad if you’d like to pitch in. However, with the success of the Prototype site (the Prototype core team did a bang-up job), I’m leaning towards eventually moving this to another Mephisto site on this instance.

Mephisto Theme Gallery

Posted by rick | 4 comments

Ben Vinegar and Justin Hernandez recently released the Mephisto Theme Gallery. I’ve you’ve created a theme that’s not listed there, use the provided submission form to add it. It’s nice to see some folks pitching in to help the community out. The authors are eager for suggestions, so let them know if there’s more you’d like to see.

Plugin Spotlight: Article Image Fetchy

Posted by rick | 6 comments

Today I’d like to highlight the mephisto_article_image_fetchy plugin, from the twisted mind of courtenay. It scans the article body for any image tags, creates assets from any remote images, and replace the URLs in the body of the article. (see included image as an example, linked from here).

For any plugin developers, notice how this uses a module and #include_into to extend Article, and the little-known #body_doc method to grab an HTML::Document of the article body. I actually added #body_doc to the filtered_column plugin so that more plugins like this could be made without having to generate the document multiple times.

Improved Url Escaping For Permalinks

Posted by rick | 5 comments

I recently received some code to translate certain non-ascii codes in your article titles into a more URL-friendly permalink. Though, at David Black’s suggestion, I decided to use Iconv instead. Seeing that I’m creating permalinks in several projects now, I’ve extracted this into a new rails plugin: permalink_fu.

Let me know how this works out. Hopefully iconv is available on your platform too. It’s my understanding that it’s in the ruby standard library, and included with the Ruby One-Click Installer for Windows users.

New Asset thumbnailing options available

Posted by rick | 16 comments

I just committed a change to Mephisto that makes Image Science the new default thumbnailer, instead of RMagick. What is Image Science?

ImageScience is a clean and happy Ruby library that generates thumbnails—and kicks the living crap out of RMagick. Oh, and it doesn’t leak memory like a sieve. :)

All I used RMagick for was thumbnailing. It seemed to wreak havoc with your memory, especially on shared hosts, so I commonly recommended disabling RMagick. In a few local tests, I watched the memory jump up to about 90MB from uploading < 1MB of images with RMagick. Yikes. ImageScience tears through them without much of a blip in memory usage.

Course, since no ruby host has ImageScience and FreeImage installed probably, you probably won’t see any benefits. Don’t worry, it should drop back to RMagick if it’s not installed, and should skip thumbnailing altogether if RMagick isn’t installed. You can customize this in environment.rb now too: ASSET_IMAGE_PROCESSOR = :image_science || :rmagick || :none (Only add :image_science, :rmagick, or :none).

Let me know how it works out. Also, I’d try hitting up your hosts and seeing if they’re up for installing FreeImage and ImageScience. I hope so, this covers probably the majority of RMagick usage, which is widely known to cause problems on shared hosts.

More Wonderful Mephisto Sites

Posted by rick | 10 comments

Steve Smith, an accomplished Wordpress hacker, recently tweaked his design and migrated to Mephisto. It’s nice to have another beautiful site in the collective. When Steven first approached Justin and I about making the switch, I worked hard on the backend to make it flexible enough to meet his needs. We finished fleshing out how the archives would work, rewrote the Dispatcher to provide the unique permalinks that Steve uses, and added article tagging. We’re still not done, but looks fantastic. Great job!

Next on the list is LocusFocus, by Mark Daggett. The site serves as a homepage for the LocusFocus studio, while providing a blog for RAM and his plugins. Another great looking and unique Mephisto site, with some quite interesting photography. Also, check out RAM, Mark’s Ruby Asset Manager. Always nice to see more great OSS rails apps out there.

So, maybe Mephisto has lost that lightweight blog engine feeling. I think it’s evident that we’ve been focusing on writing a kick ass publishing engine and trying to get break away from the standard articles/archives/tags/category blog feel. We’ve worked hard to keep it simple enough to run one of those straightforward blogs if you want, but Mephisto really starts to shine once you start expanding. I’ve also heard rumors of a Mephisto installation hosting several thousand blogs, how cool is that?

Though Justin and I have been taking a bit of a break from Mephisto, we’ll be back in 2007 and we hope to see all you there with us. Happy holidays and all that…

Sight seeing in the Mephisto Universe

Posted by rick | 4 comments

Boy, have I been slacking in my duties…

First, Thomas Fuchs migrated his blog, as well as the Fluxiom Blog and typestorming to the latest Mephisto. Very cool stuff. He even hints at some plugin trickery performed on on typestorming. He’s been one of the earliest supporters for Mephisto, putting (I think) the first company blog on Mephisto before it was even ready for widespread use.

Second, John Long, author of the distinguished competition (Radiant), moved his blog to Mephisto. It’s interesting how two very similar applications came out about the same time. I know I probably would not have bothered with Mephisto had I known of Radiant. But as it worked out, there are two bad ass publishing systems out for Rails with different approaches. They are surely different in philosophy, but they are also fighting the same enemy (and that is a discussion for another time).

Things have quieted down on the Mephisto front, but there are people pushing the boundaries of Mephisto’s crappy incomplete plugin system. Justin has been doing some crazy liquid templating stuff, and simplifying how sections work. There’s also been talk about refining the permalink system a bit, adding support for podcasting, etc. 2007 should be a great year for Mephisto.

Mephisto 0.7.3 - Annoying Bugs fixed

Posted by rick | 8 comments

I’ve decided to make another quick Mephisto release for two reasons. One: there are a few annoying bugs that have been fixed. But, the big news is that Rails 1.2 RC1 has been released. This means that as the Rails team starts working towards Rails 2.0, I won’t be dragging the Mephisto users along for the ride.

So, if you happen to be on a host that has the RC1 installed, you’re good to go. Since no sane host will do that until the official release, you can start freezing to the Rails 1.2 branch in SVN (more info in the Download area).

Mephisto Plugins: Day 1 and 2

Posted by rick | 2 comments

Day 1 – I added a way to customize the routes, include controllers, and add tabs to the Admin interface.

Day 2 – I added a way to customize the Mephisto application classes from plugin modules.

This is very experimental stuff in Mephisto trunk. Check it out if you’re a rails developer.

Mephisto Plugin Trio

Posted by rick | 3 comments

Mark Guzman has written three useful Mephisto plugins – Feed Reader, Comment Emailer, and Post Pinger. Now that Mephisto has gotten fairly stable in its feature set, I think it’s time to start exploring how we can extend Mephisto. Bill Katz has been working towards this since day one, and mentioned a migration plugin to use string numbering. This lets you svk/piston hackers add custom migrations without running into issues on the next update. Still, I’m wondering if something like plugin migrations would be a better solution.

Mephisto 0.7 Noh-Varr Official Release

Posted by Justin | 15 comments

We're proud to announce the official 0.7 Noh-Varr release. We've worked hard on this release squashing bugs, enhancing the experience, and adding features that will make your life easier. We've cleaned up our converters, made it easier to manage comments and spam, enhanced our templating system with new tags, made it easier to apply a new look and feel to your site with our new theme manager, and many other things. Mephisto was already the best publishing system ever, and now we've upped the ante, but I think we're gonna stick with the tag line.

Note: A quick hotfix was just deployed. the_mug in #mephisto finally figured out the odd issue where rake db:bootstrap wasn't finding the tzinfo library when it was frozen in /vendor. If you're having an issue with tzinfo, either make the small change, copy over the new lib/tasks/bootstrap.rake file, update from subversion, or re-download the 0.7.2 archive.

What is Mephisto?

Latest Release

0.8 (Drax)


About Mephisto

Mephisto was baked to golden perfection by Rick Olson(Development) and Justin Palmer(UI/Design) with contributions from a bunch of cool people.

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