Glowbug

Over a decade ago, I don’t remember when it was exactly – it might have been as far back as when I was in college, I had plans to write my own blog CMS (content management system) and it was going to be called Glowbug.

At the time, I think I was using MovableType at that time. MovableType was a tool for running your blog, similar to Blogger, or today’s WordPress. The core difference being that rather operating a dynamic website, it published static web files. In simple terms, the difference is that when you visit a website, the server calculates lots of things and then builds a page for you to see. MovableType instead opted to do all that work at the time of publish, and thus your visitors were seeing static HTML files. The upside was speed for the visitor, the downside was that as blogs grew larger, publishing the hundreds or thousands of pages, could take quite some time.

But I digress. This idea, my idea for Glowbug, was driven primarily by two things.

First, and the real crux of it, was actually a fairly simple feature I wanted as part of my blog: Since my blog was much more of a life journal, I wanted posts to be auto organized into chapters. Each new post was going to be added to the latest chapter, until I advanced chapters.

In retrospect, considering that as a core reason for building a new CMS is rather humorous. That is an idea which could fairly easily be added to any CMS as an extension. But I saw it as a worthy reason to explore this idea.

The second reason for the idea was to learn. I knew building a complete CMS was a complex project and would really stretch my coding skills to their limits at the time.

So, I dove in.

And nearly as soon as I started, I realized that I had underestimated just how complicated this project truly was. As I ran into walls, I suddenly remembered all the other things I had that could keep me busy instead. And so Glowbug was abandoned.

Jump cut to earlier week, after deciding it was time for another Twitter hiatus, I found myself dipping in on a side project that was quickly turning into a mini-CMS. What I want is a simple system that lets me collect links or small posts, which would today be Tweets, and then push them out as a daily post. That is the core of this idea.

So this week I have spent a handful of hours building the underlying system for this tool. It is probably 70% of the way done to being a minimal viable product. It has the ability for me to add posts. It has the ability for me to go back and edit those posts. And it has the ability to do a clumsy ham-fisted export. So we have the bare necessities.


Here is the simple and rough first three entries into Glowbug, the first to be exported:

8/12 – 10:15pmHello World. #

8/12 – 11:16pmIt finally happened. 12 years ago I asked a question on StackOverflow, relating to JSON encoding results from a mysql query in PHP. Today, I googled this question and my own post on StackOverflow was the first result on Google. Some things never change.#

8/13 – 8:38pm – What started as a small quicklinks project, then was renamed to ‘Blips’ as I seek something to replace Twitter as an easy way to drop small thoughts, has been renamed ‘Glowbug.’

Years ago I had plans to make my own complete site CMS, and that was called ‘Glowbug’ at the time. It quickly became evident that WordPress and other offerings were far more robust and beyond what I could do. But here we are, coming full circle, as I build my own little tool out.#


The setup is minimal by design. Additions from here will largely be about improving flow, extending export, and possibly automating things. I could see it working where every evening at 11pm pacific it publishes all of the entries I made into WordPress. Or it might be something I automate into a newsletter that people can sign up for. We will see.

There are three blogs I am sort of looking at for inspiration on Glowbug, first is Dave Weiner’s Scripting.com. Every paragraph he posts has its own mini link to be directly linked to. Jason Kottke and MarginalRevolution.com both collect links for readers, and I want to do that as I read and consume a great deal of information online everyday.

I’ll keep working on it and as you start seeing these Glowbug posts rolling, you’ll hopefully be able to see iteration and improvement as we go.

In Your Inbox

So I’m diving deep into this blog in 2020. That’s the plan at least. Various daily updates, new features, interviews, maybe even a podcast. Part of this is a bi-weekly email newsletter. I started this idea five years ago, simply called “Interesting Stuff.” On that first try, I put out four emails over six months and then in March 2013, I stopped.

Well, I’m bringing the idea back. And in fact, issue #5 went out on the 29th. You can see what was in it here.

No Bullshit. No Spam. No selling email addresses. It’s just another way for people to get updates on what I write and for me to share cool things from around the web. The most commercial thing I might do is include affiliate product links, but when I do I’ll openly disclose the affiliate nature of the link.

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