Thoughts on creating my blog

28 June, 2010 @ 19:58

At this point it’s been around two days since I created this site, yet I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how quick and easy it’s been to set up a blog and create a whole new theme to make it look pretty.

When I started out I knew only one thing—my blog would have to run on a Windows server, so it’d have to be an ASP.Net-based blogging platform. After a bit of looking around I came across BlogEngine.NET, and as I didn’t know anything about blogs and didn’t want to spend a great deal of time researching them, I decided to take the plunge and go with it. As it happens it was a really good choice! It’s a really simple blogging platform as far as deployment goes in that all you have to do is upload a bunch of files, fire up your browser, and change a couple of settings within a control panel. There is no database to set up, and almost everything about the blog can be configured through the browser.

Of course, by default you get a pretty plain-looking theme, so I decided to set about creating a new one that would be more representative of myself. I decided that I wanted it to look as near a match as possible to my Twitter page as basically the two would be forming the majority of my online presence, so I figured it would be great for the look and feel to be carried across between them. As it happens, BlogEngine.NET is also incredibly easy to write themes for.

A theme for BlogEngine.NET basically comprises three files: a site.master, which acts as a template that all the other pages adhere to; a post “view”, which basically controls the code that is generated for a blog post; and finally a comment “view”, which is used to generate the code for all the comments that are made on an article. There are also “controls”, which are essentially little snippets of code, that allow you to embed things within a template, for example the Twitter stream that’s on the right-hand-side of this page. All of these things make it super-simple to write a theme.

So I set about making my theme. I decided that it would be a good exercise to write it using HTML5 and making use of some of the new elements, such as header, footer, nav, article and section and I might try and experiment with some CSS3 too. I spent a few hours last night, and maybe an hour or so today, and pretty much got a theme working that looks close enough to my Twitter page that I’m happy with it.

It’s still a work in progress of course, but it’s now at a point where it’s usable enough for me to be happy for it to go live, and it’s a huge improvement on the boring grey of the original theme!

Do let me know what you think—even if it’s that I wasted my time ;)


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6/28/2010 9:54:27 PM #

Rich Mehta

Looking pretty awesome! Sounds pretty cool too; getting something pretty decent in two days is quite an achievement. I've been thinking about rewriting my blog for a while.

So I'm guessing it saves posts as flat files in some format or another?


6/28/2010 10:16:43 PM #

Dylan Parry

Thanks Smile

Yeah, it’s all stored as XML files. Kind of reminded me of a NOSQL approach! It seems to be pretty efficient too. From reading the docs you can set it up so that it’ll use any RDBMS as a backend too, but to be honest I saw that as being more hassle than it’s worth as if I ever want to move the site to a different server, or make an offline copy, all I have to do is download the “/www” directory rather than muck about with database backup files.

6/29/2010 8:46:34 PM #


How about more rounded corners? I see some, but related posts, comments and Add comment elements could use it as well, maybe?

6/29/2010 9:30:53 PM #

Dylan Parry

It certainly wouldn’t hurt, I suppose Smile I’m thinking of giving the comments a different background colour too, maybe the same grey that the Twitter box is, with a darker border and of course some rounded corners. Thanks for the feedback!

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