Do you do something before reading the instructions? I do, especially when trying a new piece of technology or software. This blog is no exception. I've been intending doing something about a blog, mainly to keep notes about software matters, and it might as well be a blog too, in the vain hope that someone else might be helped by my musings or ineptitue.
Well I've just spent the evening installing my first BlogEngine.Net blog, having found the Codeplex site a few days ago. I did have a brief look at the docs to get a gist of how it should be installed and to find out the technical requirements. For me it has to work on shared hosting, be .Net 3.5 or lower and work from a sub-directory (which means a virtual directory). Seeing that it could, it was worth going deeper as it was clearly impressive software. As this is my first (successful) attempt at getting it installed, I thought it would make a fitting start as my first blog post about my experiences...
Looking at Codeplex it was clear that a source snapshot would be best as some bugs had been fixed that looked good to have. I browsed the code and it looked copable with, so downloaded it to my laptop. I was please to see the sln icon was VS2010, but suprised when it opened using VS2010 express - I've got both on my laptop. That makes the source code of this blog accessible to millions (potentially) and just goes to show what can be acheived with the free express editions.
The solution opened perfectly and built without a murmour - a very good sign for a quality open source project. I ran it and the development server burst into life with an impressive out-of the box site. I had read enough to know about the admin/admin login, and initially runs using an XML database. I could login, create a user, enter a page and it looked robust. Wow!
Next was to try SQLServer - but how to create the database? That got me lost for a few moments around the documentation - yes, I had to look!. Does it have an installation wizard like Joomla or Umbraco? Well, no! Eventually I found a reference to sql files in a setup folder and it clicked they were in the project. I could find ....\setup\MSSQLSetup220.127.116.11.sql, but horror SQLServer is at v9 now - would I have problems? But no, the db installed like a dream. Followed the intructions about the replacing the correct web.config file and editing the connection string and run it up on my laptop's IIS7.5 (Win 7 Ultimate 64 bit). No problem, it ran without a hitch. It was pretty obvious I was starting again with a new db, so in with that admin/admin login and try it out. Perfect! I worked round the admin options and scoped out the blog's features - impressive! Only comment here is you need to look for various things - where is the Admin menu, where's that login prompt, etc. One needs to keep an open mind when using for the first time as their locations are suttle and blended into the design. Well, now it was time for evening meal and a glass of wine! After I'd try the shared host.
Now, a bit later, I was feeling more confident. Better try on a localhost IIS first using same local db. VS2010 Express's Copy to Web feature came to my rescue to move to c:\inetpub etc, but decided I would use the normal Zip and FTP when it came time to move to the shared host. Getting a localhost website running was no problem using IIS Manager, and neither was BlogEngine - just another new db! Good, let's try with the shared hosting..., tea break, first!
Zipping, copying and unpacking to a sub-dir on the server was straighfoward, and I even remembered to set the App_Data directory to read/write as per the docs. Db no problem, but my host provider is a bit odd here, but I managed it. Another edit of the web-config file this time done on the server. Now, let's fire it up and bang, a ASP error! This was to say that error messages were turned off and I needed <customErrors mode="Off"/> in the web.config file. Now with error messages on I tried again and pow, another error. This time the ASP, not a virtual directory one - silly me. Try again and now can't get to the db cos I miss-typed the database name. And again, but an error to say it can't access web.config - what, I just edited it! Oh, of course, I FTP'ed the files I need to change the read permissions on everything. Done and hurrah!, it works. Now, yet another new db so I'm in with admin/admin again.
Well this blog is far better than I've seen with Joomla. I'll think I'll keep it, hence writing this.
What are my first impressions writing this?
- Firstly the editor's good. Better by far than the ones in Joomla and other web apps I've tried. Need to find out what component it is...
- Second I don't like the fact there's only a save button that closes the editor - I want an apply button as well as a save/close - yes, I save as I go after many years of loosing what I've typed.
- Thirdly, the apply and save buttons should be below the editor and not at bottom of page - on my widescreen laptop I need to keep scrolling down the page.
- And fourthly, I need a spellchecker. Oh, I'll proof read this tomorrow!
Well, now it's bedtime. Tomorrow I need to learn by way though .htaccess files to redirect my domain name to this blog. RegEx expression, uh!
bye for now, thanks for reading, and I hope it's helped