WordPress and iPhone / iPod Touch

Now that I’ve updated ucalgaryblogs.ca to WordPress MultiUser 2.6, the cool new native iPhone and iPod Touch blogging app will work. Just point it to your blog(s), give it login credentials, and you’re off and running!

What’s cool is that now all of my blogs can be managed via my iPod Touch using a native application!

For example, I used dlnorman.ucalgaryblogs.ca as the blog address, and gave it my login info. It will work with multiple blogs, too – but each blog needs to be configured separately.

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WordPress Super Cache

I’ve been using the WP-Cache 2 plugin for some time, as it offers pretty effective file-based caching of WordPress pages to help reduce the load on the database server and reduce page generation time. But the plugin has kind of languished without any real updates for months(?) or years(?).

Donncha O Caoimh, the WordPress guru who’s name I’ll never be able to pronounce, released an updated and refined caching plugin called WP-Super-Cache, based on the great start offered by WP-Cache 2.

Traditionally, if someone wanted to run a high-performance weblog, or an enterprise-level weblogging system, they really had only 2 choices.

  1. MovableType – because it generates static HTML for every page of the site, and only runs code when posting new content (posts or comments). It can, in theory, scale pretty much infinitely, but can also take for fracking EVER to publish content because it may have to regenerate static files for EVERY page on the site (if you change the theme, you get to create 5,000 new .html files to reflect it).
  2. WordPress on some bad-ass hardware. WordPress.com runs on it, but they use 23 bajillion servers, with jaw dropping MySQL clustering and replication. Dynamic content with query caching, etc… Works great, but needs a fair bit of care on the back end to manage the tiers of MySQL (or Oracle?) database servers, and multiple webservers.

Now, there’s a pretty kickass third option.

  1. WordPress on commodity hardware, with WP-Super-Cache

WP-Super-Cache does some great caching, storing the output of dynamically generated pages, and returning those rather than hitting the database. It doesn’t even have to fire up PHP to spit out the cached pages – it’s essentially running as a static file server. Kinda like MovableType. But with lazily bound cache that gets regenerated as needed. You don’t have to staticize an entire website, just the pages that are being requested. And they’re updated every hour or so, so the load on the server should be extremely low.

If your server is kosher, it’ll also gzip the cached pages, saving disk space, time and bandwidth (sadly, neither of my servers seem to play nicely with the gzip “super cache” option – I’ll play more later).

Now, my blog likely still won’t survive a full-on Slashdotting because I’m running on an inexpensive shared hosting provider (Dreamhost). But it should survive a pretty respectable amount of traffic (i.e., way more than I currently get) so I should be good to go. And ucalgaryblogs.ca should be able to serve out some pretty decent traffic loads, assuming I manage to actually market it and get folks to use it…

WP-Super-Cache also works out of the box on WordPress MultiUser. It installs as a mu-plugin with minimal effort, once you RTFM. The options, oddly, don’t show up in “Site Admin” but in the “Options” panel on the main blog of a WPMU installation.

pssst. wanna blog?

It’s still not officially released, and I’m still in the early stages of putting together a funding proposal to turn it into a supported service, but if you’re willing to live life on the edge and risk a little beta goodness, UCalgaryBlogs.ca is kinda on the air.

All you need is a valid @ucalgary.ca email address, and you’re off and running. You can create as many blogs as you like, and can select from a bajillion available themes.

Why use the service? Well, it’s more “individual” than the existing weblogs.ucalgary.ca services (which is still running) so it should be less of a communal space. It’s running essentially the same software as WordPress.com, but on a UCalgary server with a UCalgary-ish domain name.

One of the cooler reasons to use UCalgaryBlogs.ca is that you’re not locked into it – wanna take your blog with you? Sure! WordPress can export all of your stuff into a format that can be imported on another server.

Oh, yeah. There are lots of other great reasons to use WordPress to manage a blog, too.

This is not intended to compete with, or replace the Drupal service offered by IT. Want to manage a large departmental website? That’s the way to go. Want to keep a simple blog or newsletter? This just might be for you…

Just be advised that it’s currently a skunkworks project, on server space I’m sneakily “borrowing”, and I’ll be actively tinkering with the software. And I’m half expecting to get spanked for just going ahead with this. But if you want to come play, please feel free! 🙂