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Usually blogs have well known structure, which is understandable; one of the core ideas behind blogs is ability to "talk" to each other using RSS, format that defines very strict set of entries like "post", "category" or "tag". Also common format helps to move data from one blog engine to the other making your data portable - big plus. But there are times when you want to go beyond this limitation, and add something valuable to you and your readers. So there is need to extend blog's data structure somehow to hold this extra data. For example WordPress adds meta tables for most main entities, and you have post meta, comment meta, user meta etc. I don't necessarily like this approach as it tightly binds extensibility points to existing structure. To borrow from famous Rumsfeld's rant, those are "known unknowns", and sometimes we have to deal with "unknown unknowns". Maybe single generic entry where post or user defines a type would be a better choice, because then we could add new type instead of creating new entry (table). This also allows (oh my!) to have meta for meta entries and not just stick another key/value pair into the post or comment. More...

Jcarousel extension for BlogEngine

This new extension for BlogEngine will let you save images for multiple albums and display any album in carousel-like fashion in your posts and pages using jCarousel plugin for jQuery. It is light-weight and pretty easy to use. I reused code from NivoSlider as foundation, making few improvements and adding ability to create thumbnail images on the fly. You install it from dnbegallery.org and access extension UI under admin/appearance where you should see "Jcarousel" in the menu list in the right side-bar. There you can upload images. To display album on the page as in this post, you add "CAROUSEL:AlbumName" to the post, substituting quotes with square brackets. More...

BlogEngine 2.6 Updater

BlogEngine 2.6 release is out and you might want to upgrade your existing blog to take advantage of all the new features. You can read instructions how to manually upgrade your site or you can try updater utility I've been using lately to automate upgrades for my blog, it worked well for me and chances are it'll work for you too. It doesn't do database part, so you'll need to do some extra work to run database script and update web.config with connection string. For XML provider all you need is follow instructions below.

Lets assume you use c:\upgrade directory for this exercise.

- Download 2.6 release (web), unzip and copy files to c:\upgrade\be26
- Pull your existing blog to c:\upgrade\old using FTP client like FileZilla
- Download and extract BeConsole.exe to the same c:\upgrade directory
- Create new folder: c:\upgrade\blog
- Open command line, change directory to c:\upgrade and run this command:

beconsole -u c:\upgrade\old c:\upgrade\be26 c:\upgrade\blog

The c:\upgrade\blog now should have your blog upgraded to version 2.6 and ready to be uploaded to your host. I tested it upgrading from 2.0 and 2.5 versions and it worked quite well. Let me know if you run into issues and I'll try to improve it more. May be we can plug it into next BlogEngine for one click auto-update, who knows.

Customizing Post Navigation

Post navigation in BlogEngine is a little hard to customize. By default it looks like picture below and that works fine with standard theme. Small problem is that those angle brackets and "|" in the middle not that easy to get rid of without some nasty CSS tricks because they baked into the core code that nobody likes to touch (or you'll have to remember to carry it over during upgrade). Good news is that you don't have to touch it and still modify navigation any way you like pretty easily if you follow this little guide. More...

BlogEngine.Web–Web Application Project

imageConverting BlogEngine.NET to Web Application Project has been a popular exercise ever since Microsoft introduced WAP project template for Visual Studio. Without getting into nitty-gritty of arguing about advantages one has over the other, converting from web site to web application is easy enough for BlogEngine.NET community to have both models. It just makes sense to have WAP version in some way linked to “proper” BlogEngine.NET so we won’t be reinventing the weal but improve on the single code base instead. More...

Heart Beat the New Theme for BlogEngine

HeartBeatI was looking for a warm colorful theme for my kids/family site and this one from ezwpthemes.com looked like a good fit (leaving aside it is in the dating category…). Anyways, I did little experiment and slightly changed my routine converting Wordpress themes by going straight to “view page source” and working with raw HTML instead of dealing with server-side code. This time I actually got down and dirty to all those PHP files and built theme by merging templates and replacing PHP code with ASP.NET equivalents when possible. It wasn’t hard at all, which proved a point I had in mind going to PHP files in the first place. I think it is relatively easy to build a converter that will take Wordpress theme and spit out theme for BlogEngine. Wouldn’t that be awesome? Ok, it won’t get 100% result, some things will need to be worked out after post-conversion process by hand. But even if it will get 80% of the job done, I’d take it. I just might try it some day!

Meanwhile, give a try this new theme. It looks best in BE 2.5, but also works fine with version 2.0. If you find any problems, drop a line here.

Theme can be downloaded from the dnbegallery and you can preview it here.

BlogEngine 2.5 - quick overview

BlogEngine 2.5 final release is ready for download, and most anticipated new feature is obviously ability to run multiple blogs on single code base. It's been a top request for a while, so hopefully it'll make lots of people happy. You can read in-depth about it on Ben's blog, I'm not going to repeat it here. Just want to say - don't dismiss it if you only going to run one blog, it can be helpful in many ways. I for one planning on little family "members only" site working as sub-blog and another used as private Wiki. All on the same code base, with single update cycle - can be a time saver. More...

Comment Form Templates

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When I visit someone's blog for the first time and want to check quickly if it runs BlogEngine, I usually go straight to comment form and if it looks like a variation of the picture below I can sure tell it is running BE. Few reasons for that, first of, if you look at code BlogEngine generates for comment form you’ll agree with me that this is not exactly a designer’s dream. It’s a little hard to modify for a different look. Secondly, most of the themes you’ll find for BlogEngine were created by developers converting existing templates, and we usually not very concerned with details when functionality is working perfectly well. So most time instead of modifying comment form to look naturally as theme itself, we simply copy-paste CSS from standard theme and wash our hands. Good enough, right? And it works just fine, too. More...