blogc, a blog compiler

So, this is a follow-up for my previous post, about my "new blog".

I promissed to write something about the "new blogging engine" that runs it, and my plan was to finish some documentation and release a first "stable" version of the project before writing this post. And surprisingly it is ready!

After a few beta versions, mainly to verify build system and packaging, I released the first "stable" version a few days ago, with some simple documentation (man pages) and all the features required for basic usage.

This blog is powered by blogc, that is a blog compiler. It works like an usual source code compiler, converting input files written in a custom input language into a target file, based on a template. It can generate almost any resource file needed by a website/blog as target file, depending on the template used, like posts, pages, feeds, sitemaps, etc.

Hmm, but this isn't similar to what [put your favorite static site generator here] does?!

Yeah, it is, indeed. But blogc was developed to be:

  1. Stateless and idempotent: no global state is shared by the binary between compiler calls, and compiler calls with the same arguments should always generate the same output. The compiler should not need to manage what needs to be rebuilt or not, this is a job for a build tool like make.
  2. Fast: the compiler should be able to generate a complex target file in a few miliseconds, making it easy to regenerate the full website/blog whenever needed. This is a feature required by another component of this project, that I'll introduce in another post.
  3. Simple: Both the source and template syntaxes are simple enough to be learned quickly, and are specific for this use case.
  4. Easy to host: it produces static files, that can be hosted anywhere.

As most of the people who read this blog knows, I like to research and implement stuff related to personal content publishing, despite not being a frequent blogger. This time I wanted to put in practice some concepts I had in mind for some time, and play with handwritten parsers.

This project is built around 3 parsers, that are basically state machines. The parsers are heavily inspired by nodejs' http parser, that is inspired by nginx's http-parser. This "methodology" of building parsers make it easy to create fast and memory efficient parsers.

blogc is totally implemented in C99, without any external dependencies.

blogc comes with a somewhat complete unit test suite, that depends on cmocka. Obviously, users who don't want to run the test suite don't need to install cmocka.

I'll provide more implementation details in a future post.

OK, how can I install it?! :D

Gentoo users can install blogc from the main package tree. Please note that the package is keyworded for ~x86 and ~amd64:

# emerge -av app-text/blogc

Fedora users, and users of other Linux distributions that support the EPEL repository, can install it from my Copr repository.

After enabling this repository, just type:

# yum install blogc

I have plans to package it for Ubuntu/Debian, but this is low priority right now.

Users without access to prebuilt packages can install blogc from source. Just visit https://blogc.rgm.io, download a source tarball, extract it and build. It is an autotools project, that builds with the usual command combo:

$ ./configure
$ make
# make install

And how can I get started with blogc?

The website contains lots of useful information.

With blogc installed, you can read man pages: blogc(1), blogc-source(7) and blogc-template(7). They are also available in the website.

You can also use our example website as base for your own website. It is very simple, but should be a good start point:

$ git clone https://github.com/blogc/blogc-example.git my-blog
$ cd my-blog
$ rm -rf .git
$ git init .
$ git add .
$ git commit -m 'My new blog, initialized from blogc-example'

The example website uses a Makefile to build the website. Reading this Makefile is a good way to learn about how blogc works. This Makefile just works with GNU Make, but users should be able to write a Makefile that works with any Make implemantation that follows POSIX standards, if wanted. Users can also use task runners like Grunt, if they know how to make it call blogc properly. :-)

What the name "blogc" means?

"blogc" stands for "blog compiler". The name has nothing to do with the programming language used to implement it. ;-)

And what about blohg? It was abandoned?

I'm still maintaining it, and it seems to be stable enough for general usage at this point. Feel free to contact me if you find some bug on it.

That's it for now.

I hope you like blogc!