Why Mokka mit Schlag?

About a year ago I launched a The Cafes with some fanfare to host shorter writings on a variety of subjects that didn’t already fit into Cafe au Lait or Cafe con Leche. That site was a partial response to my feelings about the shortcomings of a lot of existing weblog management and CMS software. In several ways I think it’s still superior to a lot of what’s out there, including the WordPress engine that hosts Mokka mit Schlag. But not in all ways.

For The Cafes I spent a lot of time thinking about the front end and the user interface to the site, and I think I did a very good job there. It works and it works well. The Cafes is still a very nice site design. I spent a lot of time working on comments in particular, because that was the main feature Cafe au Lait and Cafe con Leche were always missing. I not so humbly think the comment system is second to none (though perhaps it could be a tad more obvious how to find it.)

Unfortunately I was so focused on the comments and the overall reader experience, that I neglected the other side of the user interface: how posts were uploaded, written, and managed. The process of writing and posting new articles was so involved that I tended not to do it. Adding a new article requires editing and manually uploading at least three separate pages. Consequently I’ve written very few articles specifically for The Cafes over the last several months. In a few cases I’ve actually written fairly long articles, but not gone to the trouble to upload them. (The negligible AdSense revenues haven’t really inspired me either.) Most of the recent articles on The Cafes started as long posts on Cafe au Lait or Cafe con Leche that grew past what I like to put on those sites.

By contrast, WordPress isn’t just nice for readers. It’s also nice for authors. In fact, it’s so nice, I’ve actually drafted one article for The Cafes in WordPress rather than BBEdit. WordPress makes it much easier to dash out quick notes on a variety of subjects, organize them, and catalog them.

There are some issues I have not yet addressed. I would love to rip out the cookies and replace them with decent HTTP Digest authentication, though that’s a bigger task than I feel comfortable undertaking just yet. I want to replace the Atom 0.3 and RSS feeds with a single Atom 1.0 feed. Possibly WordPress 1.6 will offer that option. And I absolutely must get rid of the hideous HTML escaped markup in the feeds. That’s too gross to be believed. It has to go. It is an embarassment to have it here.

But I can do all that, sooner or later. The WordPress code is well enough designed that I can hack this all together. I’ve already made one change. I hacked the WordPress software to generate RSS/Atom feeds for the different categories’ subcategories, so you can subscribe, for example, just to the Software Development feed or just to the Testing feed. So far I haven’t even needed to ask for help on IRC or the mailing list. The combination of Google and the WordPress Codex has answered all my questions, though I still have a few doubts about whether my hacks are the right solutions to my problems or whether there are easier ways to accomplish what I want to accomplish. I may have to ask the mailing list for their judgement on that.

I’m not abandoning The Cafes. I still plan to publish my longer more focused articles there (Indeed I’m dual publishing this article on The Cafes and on Mokka mit Schlag) but I think Mokka mit Schlag is likely to see a lot more activity going forward.

P.S. Mokka mit Schlag is a form of German coffee covered in whipped cream I first encountered at Borsodi’s coffee house in New Orleans about 20 years ago. This site is dedicated to the memory of its proprietor, Robert Borsodi. If I’ve skipped an umlaut or doubled consonant or some such, I apologize to any germanophones reading this; but that’s how Bob spelled it.

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