While I don’t regularly use Manila, I’ve always liked the idea of it, so it pleases me to see it getting lots of attention now that Dave’s using it at Harvard. I haven’t been keeping track of all the stuff that’s going on, but easy editing of navigation links is a really slick wiki-like editor, and up next is TrackBack and optional post summaries.
Dave’s take on post summaries and RSS is an interesting twist on my own: he says
[t]he answer is to let the author make the decision, that while writing a post you should decide whether or not you will put the full text of the post in your RSS feed. My solution is to say that it’s up to the reader, to the extent that the author of their aggregator gives them the choice. I do a plain-text description of every post, even the ones where it’s damn near as long as the post, and put it in the RSS description element, and I put the full post in content:encoded (or xhtml:body, depending on the feed), and when I want to keep something to myself, I put it in Movable Type’s extended entry, which I don’t syndicate. That’s something I try to do as little as possible, mostly when it’s notes to myself I really shouldn’t be publishing, or something that will break my front page, but I do sometimes do it. There are certainly advantages to both ways of doing it, and I like Dave’s “you’ll syndicate full content unless you write a summary” far better than Movable Type’s default of “you’ll syndicate the first few words unless you make an effort to do something else.” But that wasn’t what I wanted to talk about.
I suspect that a lot of the movement in Manila is the result of putting a Manila developer in close proximity to some really smart users: most developers want to listen to their users, but when you have to interrogate them at length via email just to find out if their problem is your fault, their fault, or just that they don’t even understand what should be happening, listening can turn into a PITA and a huge time sink. If you have a bunch of users that you know are smart, whether or not they understand how you want your software to work, and if worst comes to worst you can just walk down to their office and see for yourself what they are doing, you should be set to do some cool stuff.
And interestingly enough, Evan now has his office in the midst of one of the biggest and best collections of really smart, really internet-savvy people around. And they are now Blogger users. The tiny little bit I know about that comes from referrers from domains that don’t resolve, and the odd spot of URL-hacking, but I do think it’s a bit odd that in all the talk about why Google would buy Blogger, I don’t remember anyone saying “maybe Google asked ‘how much for a site license?’, and when they heard the price, said ‘cor, that’s all? how much for the company?'” I don’t know, or really much care, what Blogger can do for Google, but I know that one thing Google can do for Blogger is provide a pool of smart users, capable of producing really good bug reports and feature requests, and that has to be good for Blogger and Blogger users.