Now that Dave Winer found a reason to turn to Manila again for his Harvard Law School weblog server, I wonder if Userland will improve Manila some more. There hasn’t been much news about Frontier/Manila. There has been a lot of ideas from the community (even a Plug-Ins wish list).
I was wondering if I should look at some kind of Textism Plug-In that mimicks the ASCII-to-HTML conversion of a Movable Type Plug-In with than name. It seems it would make editing in a Textarea much easier – most people I know either don’t like the HTML formatting tool bar and also don’t want to buy Radio Userland to have a more convenient editing experience.
There was few movement in the Manila Plug-In area – and I think mostly the reason for that is that Frontier didn’t really take off when it went commercial in 1998. There were too many developers not working professionally with Frontier that contributed to the community – you couldn’t make a living from being a Frontier developer. Actually that is a pity because Frontier has set so many standards in the area of web application.
I was looking at my Manila plug-ins that haven’t changed much for a while. Internally I have some improved versions: the metaRender Plug-In has a complete OPML rendering framework that allows you to define HTML templates for conversion of OPML (screenshot). It does custom caching – so you can render OPML from different sources (Msg# or URL) in any number of messages or templates without having Manila rendering that HTML again and again. Currently it is not very newbie-resistant, because the rules are not validated.
And if not clear from the screenshot: you will be able to define seperate behaviors for each nodetype/attributes. In the “Add nodetype(s)” section you will also be able to add own nodetypes or teach your template nodetypes/attributes from a OPML source.
hieraryTemplates plug-in status
One of the next issues of the hierarchyTemplates plug-in is to make it compatible with the theme mechanism of Manila. To achieve this I’d need to store the plug-in data in a table that will be included in a theme. I did not yet look into that but I bet the hardest part of it is to make it bullet proof for those who upgrade.
Another completely new plug-in will be the meetingMaker plug-in. I have no idea when that will be finished – but the idea is to manage invitation to meetings where people actually answer a poll about which of the suggested meetings they probably attend. Here is a screenshot of the current prototype showing how to create an announcment (which is just the initial step before polling and actually inviting/cancelling). I think many people -especially at larger institutions- will like this plug-in.