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Posts about Bricolage

Bricolage Summer of Code Application Summary

Total Applications48
Gibberish Applications2
Wrong Project2
Students with 2 Applications3
Students with 4 Applications1

Google has finally launched the WebApp for the project administrators for its Summer of Code initiative. I logged in, thinking that Bricolage might get five or ten applications.

No, there were 48! I’ve just started going through them, but the table to the left contains a quick summary of what came in.

That leaves 42 applications! (Huh, and 42 happens to be the answer. Imagine that.) After a quick survey, the table below summarizes how they break down in terms of the projects and number of proposals. There are more than 42 here because quite a few applications group together a number of tasks.

MySQL Port20
SQLite Port10
Apache 2/mod_perl 2/Windows Port4
Modernize the Installer3
JSP Templating2
Hierarchical Bulk Editing2
Category Permission Inheritance2
Site Tagging and Rollback2
ASP.NET Templating1
Bulk Media Uploading1
Apache 2/mod_perl 2 port1
Rewrite Bricolage in PHP1
Element Occurrence Specification1
I can improve Bricolage1
Input Channels1
Concurrent Checkouts & Conflict Resolution1
Subversion Integration1
New Sample Templates1
Add Middle Initials to Contributors1

I am stunned and amazed by the sheer number of proposals the project received. There are quite a few good ones, too. I’ve told Google that I can handle five or six projects, but it might end up being a lot! I’ll have to really pare them down this weekend. So fare I’ve eliminated a dozen or so that are simple one-liners (such as, “Port Bricolage to mySQL[sic]”), but now the real work of comparing and contrasting begins—especially for all of those MySQL proposals!

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Bricolage a Google Summer of Code Project

The Bricolage project is pleased to have been selected to be a partner in the Google Summer of Code. This Initiative is designed to introduce students to the world of Open Source Software Development and provide them with a $4500 award for completing an Open Source project before the end of Summer.

As a partner, we are currently looking for student volunteers to propose Bricolage development projects. We have created a list of suggested project ideas. If you’re interested in hacking on Bricolage for fame and fortune, join the Bricolage Developers mail list or sign on to #bricolage on irc.develooper.org (MagNet) to outline your proposal and get feedback as you prepare to submit it to Google. You can also join the Google Summer-Discuss group or sign on to #google-summer on irc.freenode.net for more general discussion of the Summer of Code.

But hurry, the deadline for proposal submissions is June 14! Students who get Bricolage projects accepted will be mentored by me and other members of the Bricolage community.

We look forward to your proposals!

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Bricolage 1.8.5 Released

The Bricolage development team is pleased to announce the release of Bricolage 1.8.5. This maintenance release addresses a number of issues in Bricolage 1.8.3 and adds a number of improvements (there was no announcement for the short-lived 1.8.4 release). The SOAP server in particular sees improvements in this release, with improved character set support; better support for related stories and media using URIs in addition to IDs; and as support for top-level element relations. Issues with the ordering of story elements have also been corrected, as well as errors when attempting to revert a story or media document or template. Here are the other highlights of this release:


  • Added Linux startup script contrib/start_scripts/linux. [David]
  • Related story and media elements managed through the SOAP server can now use a combination of URI and site ID to identify related assets in addition to the existing approach of using story and media IDs. [David]
  • A list of subelements is now less likely to mysteriously become out of order and thus lead to strange action-at-a-distance errors. And even if they do become out of order, the error message will be more appropriate (“Warning! State inconsistent” instead of “Can’t call method “get_name” on an undefined value”). Reported by Curtis Poe. [David]
  • The SOAP media interface now supports creating relationships between the media documents elements and other story and media documents, just like the SOAP story interface does. [David]
  • The SOAP interface now supports Related stories and media on story type and media type elements just as in the UI. This involved the somewhat hackish necessity for including the “related_story_id” and “related_media_id” (or “related_story_uri” and “related_media_uri”) attributes in the “elements” XML element, but it does the trick. [David]

Bug Fixes

  • Calls to publish documents via SOAP will no longer fail if the published_version attribute is not specified and the document to be published has never been published before. [David]
  • The Bricolage virtual FTP server will no longer fail to start if Template Toolkit is installed but its version number is less than 2.14. Reported by Adam Rinehart. [David]
  • Stories and Media created or updated via the SOAP interface will now associate contributors of the appropriate type, instead of “All Contributors”. [Scott & David]
  • Deleting an element that has a template no longer causes an error. Thanks to Susan for the spot! [David]
  • Eliminated encoding errors when using the SOAP interface to output stories, media, or templates with wide characters. Reported by Scott Lanning. [David]
  • Reverting (stories, media, templates) no longer gives an error. Reported by Simon Wilcox, Rachel Murray, and others. [David]
  • Publishing a published version of a document that has a later version in workflow will no longer cause that later version to be mysteriously removed from workflow. This could be caused by passing a document looked up using the published_version to list() to $burner->publish_another in a template. [David]
  • The SOAP server story and media interfaces now support elements that contain both related stories and media, rather than one or the other. [David]
  • Attempting to preview a story or media document currently checked out to another user no longer causes an error. Reported by Paul Orrock. [David]
  • Custom fields with default values now have their values included when they are added to stories and media. Thanks to Clare Parkinson for the spot! [David]
  • The bric_queued script now requires a username and password and will authenticate the user. This user will then be used for logging events. All events logged when a job is run via the UI are now also logged by bric_queued. [Mark and David]
  • Preview redirections now use the protocol setting of the preview output channel if it’s available, and falls back on using “http://” when it’s not, instead of using the hard-coded “http://”. Thanks to Martin Bacovsky for the spot! [David]
  • The has_keyword() method in the Business class (from which the story and media classes inherit) now works. Thanks to Clare Parkinson for the spot! [David]
  • Clicking a link in the left-side navigation after the session has expired now causes the whole window to show the login form, rather than it showing inside the nav frame, which was useless. [Marshall]
  • The JavaScript that validates form contents once again works with htmlArea, provided htmlArea itself is patched. See the relevant htmlArea bug report for the patch. As of this writing, you must run the version of htmlArea in CVS. [David & Marshall]
  • The JavaScript that handles the double list manager has been vastly optimized. It should now be able to better handle large lists, such as a list of thousands of categories. Reported by Scott. [Marshall]
  • Uploading a new image to a media document with a different media type than the previous image no longer causes an Imager error. [David]

For a complete list of the changes, see the changes. For the complete history of ongoing changes in Bricolage, see Bric::Changes.

Download Bricolage 1.8.5 now from the Bricolage Web site Downloads page, from the SourceForge download page, and from the Kineticode download page.

About Bricolage

Bricolage is a full-featured, enterprise-class content management and publishing system. It offers a browser-based interface for ease-of use, a full-fledged templating system with complete HTML::Mason, HTML::Template, and Template Toolkit support for flexibility, and many other features. It operates in an Apache/mod_perl environment and uses the PostgreSQL RDBMS for its repository. A comprehensive, actively-developed open source CMS, Bricolage was hailed as “quite possibly the most capable enterprise-class open-source application available” by eWEEK.

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Bricolage 1.8.3 Released

The Bricolage development team is pleased to announce the release of Bricolage 1.8.3. This maintenance release addresses a number of issues in Bricolage 1.8.2. The most important changes eliminate or greatly reduce the number of deadlocks caused during bulk publishes of many documents. Other changes include new contributed scripts for importing contributors and for generating thumbnail images, Russian localization, and various fixes for database transaction, template formatting, and various user interface fixes. Here are the other highlights of this release:


  • Added contrib/thumbnails/precreate-thumbs.pl script to pre-create thumbnails from images. Useful for upgraders. [Scott]
  • Added contrib/bric_import_contribs to import contributors from a tab-delimited file. Development by Kineticode, sponsored by the RAND Corporation. [David]
  • Added the published_version parameter to the list() methods of the story, media, and template classes. This parameter forces the search to return the versions of the assets as they were last published, rather than the most recent version. This will be most useful to those looking up other documents in templates and publishing them, as a way of avoiding pulling documents out from other anyone who might have them checked out! [David]
  • All publishing and distribution jobs are now executed in their own transactions when they are triggered by the user interface. This is to reduce the chances of a deadlock between long-running publishing transactions. [David]
  • Optimized SQL queries for key names or that order by string values to use indexes in the list() and list_ids() methods of the story, media, and template classes. [David]
  • Added Russian localization. [Sergey Samoilenko].
  • Changed the foreign keys in the story, media, and formatting (template) tables so that DELETEs do not cascade, but are restricted. This means that before deleting any source, element, site, workflow, or other related object that has a foreign key reference in an asset table, those rows must be deleted. Otherwise, PostgreSQL will throw an exception. Hopefully, this will put a stop to the mysterious but very rare disappearance of stories from Bricolage. [David]
  • A call to $burner->burn_another in a template that passes in a date/time string in the future now causes a publish job to be scheduled for that time, rather than immediate burning the document and then scheduling the distribution to take place in the future. Reported by Ashlee Caul. [David]
  • Changing the sort order of a list of items in a search interface now properly reverses the entire collection of object over the pages, rather than just the objects for the current page. Thanks to Marshall for the spot! [David]

Bug Fixes

  • Publishing stories not in workflow via the SOAP server works again. [David]
  • The Burner object’s encoding attribute is now setable as well as readable. [David]
  • The category browser works again. [David]
  • Fixed Media Upload bug where the full local path was being used, by adding a “winxp” key to Bric::Util::Trans::FS to account for an update to HTTP::BrowserDetect. [Mark Kennedy]
  • Instances of a required custom field in story elements is no longer required once it has been deleted from the element definition in the element manager. Reported by Rod Taylor. [David]
  • A false value passed to the checked_out parameter of the list() and list_ids() methods of the story, media, and template (formatting) classes now properly returns only objects or IDs for assets that are not checked out. [David]
  • The cover date select widget now works properly in the clone interface when a non-ISO style date preference is selected. Thanks to Susan G. for the spot! [David]
  • Sorting templates based on Asset Type (Element) no longer causes an error. [David]
  • Fixed a number of the callbacks in the story, media, and template profiles so that they didn’t clear out the session before other callbacks were done with it. Most often seen as the error “Can’t call method ‘get_tiles’ on an undefined value” in the media profile, especially with IE/Windows (for some unknown reason). Reported by Ed Stevenson. [David]
  • Fixed typo in clone page that caused all output channels to be listed rather than only those associated with the element itself. [Scott]
  • Fixed double listing of the “All” group in the group membership double list manager. [Christian Hauser]
  • Image buttons now correctly execute the onsubmit() method for forms that define an onsubmit attribute. This means that, among other things, changes to a group profile will persist when you click the “Permissions” button. [David]
  • Simple search now works when it is selected when the “Default Search” preference is set to “Advanced”. Reported by Marshall Roch. [David]
  • Multiple alert types set up to trigger alerts for the same event will now all properly execute. Thanks to Christian Hauser for the spot! [David]
  • Publishing stories or media via SOAP with the published_only parameter (--published-only for bric_republish) now correctly republishes the published versions of documents even if the current version is in workflow. Reported by Adam Rinehart. [David]
  • Users granted a permission greater than READ to the members of the “All Users” group no longer get such permission to any members of the “Global Admins” group unless they have specifically been granted such permission to the members of the “Global Admins” group. Thanks to Marshall Roch for the spot! [David]

For a complete list of the changes, see the changes. For the complete history of ongoing changes in Bricolage, see Bric::Changes.

Download Bricolage 1.8.3 now from the Bricolage Website Downloads page, from the SourceForge download page, and from the Kineticode download page.

About Bricolage

Bricolage is a full-featured, enterprise-class content management and publishing system. It offers a browser-based interface for ease-of use, a full-fledged templating system with complete HTML::Mason, HTML::Template, and Template Toolkit support for flexibility, and many other features. It operates in an Apache/mod_perl environment and uses the PostgreSQL RDBMS for its repository. A comprehensive, actively-developed open source CMS, Bricolage was hailed as “quite possibly the most capable enterprise-class open-source application available” by eWEEK.


–The Bricolage Team

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On Making a Better Open-Source CMS

Jeffrey Veen posted some of his thoughts on the (dreary) state of open-source CMSs. So I just thought I’d comment on his thoughts. Keep your salt grains handy.

As a CMS developer, my point of view is quite naturally biased. However, I agree with some of Jeffrey’s points, and disagree with others. Well, not disagree so much as wish to qualify. Many of your points betray a certain perspective that does not (and, naturally, cannot) apply to anyone and everyone who is evaluating content management systems. So let me just try to address each of your points and how they related to Bricolage.

Make it easy to install. Well, yes, of course, and I’ll be the first to admit that Bricolage is difficult to install. But your requirement that you be able to install it from the browser just isn’t feasible with a CMS that aims to scale to the needs of a large organization. The security implications alone make give me the heebee-jeebies. It’s fine if you want to just manage your own personal site, but not if you’re aiming to serve the complex needs of the corporate marketplace.

That said, it might be reasonable to create a simple installer that’s useful for doing a local evaluation of a major CMS, one that doesn’t rely on an RDBMS and an Apache Web server installation. (RT (not a CMS) has been working on a simple executable that uses an embedded database and Web server for those who want to evaluate it. For Bricolage, we at one time had a KNOPPIX CD that one could use to try it out. But for the rest, the best solution is probably an RPM, BSD Package, Debian package, or the like–something that can integrate the application into the base operating system.

Make it easy to get started. Bricolage is pretty bad about this, mostly because the default templates that come with it suck. That will change eventually, but the bigger issue is that when you have a complex, flexible application, it’s tricky to present a simple getting started configuration without locking the user into just using that configuration (witness all the identical Microsoft Home Page sites on the ‘Net to see what I mean). But that’s no excuse for a system like Bricolage–those who need the more advanced features could take advantage of them when they’re ready. It’s just a matter of finding the tuits (or the volunteer) to make it happen.

Write task-based documentation first. In my experience, most complex open-source applications that have task-based documentation have it when they author a book. Yes, most of these systems have grown organically, and documentation gets written as volunteers make the time. But the best documentation I’ve found for open-source software has tended to be in published books. Though I think that trend is gradually changing.

Separate the administration of the CMS from the editing and managing of content. In Bricolage, you do not have to switch accounts to have access to the administrative tools. And although the administrative tools are part of the same UI, they have an entirely different section and set of navigation menus. Users who don’t have permission to use those tools don’t notice them.

Users of a public web site should never–never–be presented with a way to log into the CMS. Amen, brotha.

Stop it with the jargon already. Finding good terminology is hard, hard work. Bricolage is broken in this respect in a few ways, but I’m thinking of replacing “jobs” with “fembots” in 2.0. What do you think?

But seriously, we try to match the terms to what is commonly used, such as “document”, “site”, “category”, “keyword”, “template”, etc. Other terms, such as “element” (the parts of a document are its elements) are well-integrated into the system, so that users pick up on it very quickly.

Why do you insist Web sites have columns? I’m in complete agreement with you here. In Bricolage, you can write templates to output any kind of content you want, in any format you want. If you want columns, fine, generate them from Bricolage. If you want a standards-compliant layout, generate it from Bricolage. You can have 1998-era tables with Flash and you can have RSS feeds. Do what you want, make it flexible or make it complex.

But note that the flexibility comes at the price of complexity. And try as we might to make Bricolage “The Macintosh of Content Management Systems,” as long as the definition of the term “Content Management System” is all over the map, commonalities of metaphors, interfaces, and, well, philosophies between CMSs will continue to be all over the map.

But that’s just my opinion.

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Lessons Learned with Perl and UTF-8

I learned quite a lot last week as I was making Bricolage much more Unicode-aware. Bricolage has always managed Unicode content and stored it in a PostgreSQL Unicode-encoded database. And by “Unicode” I of course mean “UTF-8”. By far the biggest nightmare was figuring out the bug with Apache::Util::escape_html(), but ultimately it came down to an interesting lesson.

Why was I making Bricolage Unicode-aware? Well, it all started with a bug report from Kang-min Liu (a.k.a. “Gugod”). I had naïvely thought that if strings were Unicode that Perl would know it and do the right thing. It turns out I was wrong. Perl assumes that everything is binary unless you tell it otherwise. This means that Perl operators such as length and substr will count bytes instead of characters. And in the case of Unicode, where characters can be multiple bytes, this can cause serious problems. Not only were strings improperly concatenated mid-character for Gugod, but PostgreSQL could refuse to accept such strings, since a chopped-up multibyte character isn’t valid Unicode!

So I had to make some decisions: Either stop using Perl operators that count bytes, or let Perl know that all the strings that Bricolage deals with are Unicode strings. The former wasn’t really an option, of course, since users can specify that certain content fields be a certain length of characters. So with a lot of testing help from Gugod and his Bricolage install full of multibyte characters, I set about doing so. The result is in the recently released Bricolage 1.8.2 and I’m blogging what I learned for both your reference and mine.

Perl considers its internal representation of strings to be UTF-8 strings, and it knows what variables contain valid UTF-8 strings because they have a special flag set on them, called, strangely enough, utf8. This flag isn’t set by default, but can be set in a number of ways. The ways I’ve found so far are:

  • Using Encode::decode() to decode a string from binary to Perl’s internal representation. The use of the word “decode” here had confused me for a while, because I thought it was a special encoding. But the truth is that it’s not. Strings can have any number of encodings, such as “ISO-8859-1”, “GB3212”, “EUC-KR”, “UTF-8”, and the like. But when you “decode” a string, you’re telling Perl that it’s not any of those encodings, but Perl’s own representation. I was confused because Perl’s internal representation is UTF-8, which is an encoding. But really it’s not UTF-8, It’s “utf8”, which isn’t an encoding, but Perl’s own thing.

  • Cheat: Use Encode::_set_utf8_on(). This private function is nevertheless documented by the Encode module, and therefore usable. What it does is simply turn on the utf8 flag on a variable. You need be confident that the variable contains only valid UTF-8 characters, but if it does, then you should be pretty safe.

  • Using the three-argument version of open, such as

    open my $fh, "<utf8", "/foo/bar" or die "Cannot open file: $!\n"

    Now when you read lines from this file, they will automatically be decoded to utf8.

  • Using binmode to set the mode on a file handle:

    binmode $fh, ":utf8";

    As with the three-argument version of open this forces Perl to decode the strings read from the file handle.

  • use utf8;. This Perl pragma indicates that everything within its scope is UTF-8, and therefore should be decoded to utf8.

So I started applying these approaches in various places. The first thing I did was to set the utf8 flag on data coming from the browser with Encode::_set_utf8_on(). Shitty browsers can of course send shitty data, but I’m deciding, for the moment at least, to trust browser to send only UTF-8 when I tell them that’s what I want. This solved Gugod’s immediate problem, and I happily closed the bug. But then he started to run into places where strings appeared properly in some places but not in others. We spent an entire day (night for Gugod–I really appreciated the help!) tracking down the problem, and there turned out to be two of them. One was the the bug with Apache::Util::escape_html() that I’ve [described elsewhere]the bug with Apache::Util::escape_html(), but the other proved more interesting.

It seems that if you concatenate a UTF-8 string with the utf8 flagged turned on with a UTF-8 string without utf8 turned on, the text in the unflagged variable turns to crap! I have no idea why this is, but Gugod noticed that strings pulled into the UI from the Bricolage zh_tw localization library simply didn’t display properly. I had him add use utf8; to the zh_tw module, and the problem went away!

So the lesson learned here is: If you’re going to make Perl strings Unicode-aware, then all of your Perl strings need to be Unicode-aware. It’s an all or nothing kind of thing.

So while setting the utf8 flag on browser submits and adding use utf8; to the localization modules got us part of the way toward a solution, it turned out to be trickier than I expected to get the utf8 flag set on everything. The places I needed to get it working were in the UI Mason components, in templates, and in strings pulled from the database.

It took a bit of research, but I think I successfully figured out how to make the UI Mason components UTF-8 aware. I just added preamble => "use utf8\n;" to the creation of the Mason interpretor. This gets passed on to is compiler, and now that string is added to the beginning of every template. This made things behave better in the UI. I applied the same approach to the interpreter created for Mason templates with equal success.

I’m less confident that I pulled it off for the HTML::Template and Template Toolkit templating architectures. In a discussion on the templates mailing list, Andy Wardley suggested that it wasn’t currently possible. But I wasn’t so sure. It seemed to me that, since Bricolage reads in the templates and asks TT to execute them within a certain scope, that I could just set the mode to utf8 on the file handle and then execute the template within the scope of a use utf8; statement. So that’s what I did. Feedback on whether it works or not would be warmly welcomed.

I tried a similar approach with the HTML::Template burner. Again, the burner reads the templates from files and passes them to HTML::Template for execution (as near as I could tell, anyway; I’m not an HTML::Template template user). Hopefully it’ll just work.

So that just left the database. Since the database is Unicode-only, all I needed to do was to turn on the utf8 flag for all content pulled from the database. Amazingly, this hasn’t come up as an issue for people very much, because DBI doesn’t do anything about Unicode. I picked up an older discussion started by Matt Sergeant on the dbi-dev mail list, but it looks like it might be a while before DBI has fast, integrated support for turning utf8 on and off for various database handles and columns. I look forward to it, though, because it’s likely to be very efficient. I greatly look forward to seeing the results of Tim’s work in the next release of DBI. I opened another bug report to remind myself to take advantage of the new feature when it’s ready.

So in the meantime, I needed to find another solution. Fortunately, my fellow PostgreSQL users had run into it before, and added what I needed to DBD::Pg back in version 1.22. The pg_enable_utf8 database handle parameter forces the utf8 flag to be turned on for all string data returned from the database. I added this parameter to Bricolage, and now all data pulled from the database is utf8. And so are the UI components, templates, localization libraries, and data submitted from browsers. I think that nailed everything, but I know that Unicode issues are a slippery slope. I can’t wait until I have to deal with them again!


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Bricolage 1.8.2 Released

The Bricolage development team is pleased to announce the release of Bricolage 1.8.2. This maintenance release addresses quite a large number of issues in Bricolage 1.8.1. The most important changes were to enhance Unicode support in Bricolage. Bricolage now internally handles all text content as UTF-8 strings, thus enabling templates to better control the manipulation of multibyte characters. Other changes include better performance for searches using the ANY() operators and more intelligent transaction handling for distribution jobs. Here are the other highlights of this release:


  • Bricolage now runs under a DSO mod_perl as long as it uses a Perl compiled with -Uusemymalloc or -Ubincompat5005. See The mod_perl FAQ for details.
  • Alerts triggered to be sent to users who don’t have the appropriate contact information will now be logged for those users so that they can see them and acknowledge them under “My Alerts”.
  • Added bric_media_dump script to contrib/.
  • The category association interface used in the story profile when the ENABLE_CATEGORY_BROWSER bricolage.conf directive is enabled now uses radio buttons instead of a link to select the primary category. Suggested by Scott Lanning.
  • Existing jobs are now executed within their own transactions, as opposed to no transaction specification. This means that each job must succeed or fail independent of any other jobs. New jobs are executed before being inserted into the database so as to keep them atomic within their surrounding transaction (generally a UI request). All this means that transactionality is much more intelligent for jobs and will hopefully eliminate job table deadlocks.
  • All templates now execute with UTF-8 character strings enabled. This means that any templates that convert content to other character sets might need to change the way they do so. For example, templates that had used <%filter> blocks to convert content to another encoding using something like Encode::from_to($_, 'utf-8', $encoding) must now use something like $_ = Encode::encode($encoding, $_), instead. Bric::Util::CharTrans should continue to do the right thing.
  • Added encoding attribute to Bric::Util::Burner so that, if templates are outputting something other than Perl utf8 decoded data, they can specify what they’re outputting, and the file opened for output from the templates will be set to the proper mode. Applies to Perl 5.8.0 and later only.
  • Added SFTP_HOME bricolage.conf directive to specify the home directory and location of SSH keys when SSH is enabled.

Bug Fixes

  • make clone once again properly copies the lib/Makefile.PL and bin/Makefile.PL files from the source directory.
  • Added missing language-specifying HTML attributes so as to properly localize story titles and the like.
  • The list of output channels to add to an element in the element profile now contains the name of the site that each is associated with, since different sites can have output channels with the same names.
  • The “Advanced Search” interface once again works for searching for related story and media documents.
  • Bricolage no longer attempts to email alerts to an empty list of recipients. This will make your SMTP server happier.
  • The version numbering issues of Bricolage modules have all been worked out after the confusion in 1.8.1. This incidentally allows the HTML::Template and Template Toolkit burners to be available again.
  • Misspelling the name of a key name tag or including a non-repeatable field more than once in Super Bulk Edit no longer causes all of the changes in that screen to be lost.
  • When a user overrides the global “Date/Time Format” and “Time Zone” preferences, the affects of the overrides are now properly reflected in the UI.
  • Publishing a story or media document along with its related story or media documents from a publish desk again correctly publishes the original asset as well as the relateds.
  • Deleted output channels no longer show up in the select list for story type and media type elements.
  • Deleting a workflow from the workflow manager now properly updates the workflow cache so that the deleted workflow is removed from the left navigation without a restart.
  • When Bricolage notices that a document or template is not in workflow or on a desk when it should be, it is now more intelligent in trying to select the correct workflow and/or desk to put it on, based on current workflow context and user permissions.
  • Content submitted to Bricolage in the UTF-8 character set is now always has the utf8 flag set on the Perl strings that store it. This allows fields that have a maximum length to be truncated to that length in characters instead of bytes.
  • Elements with autopopulated fields (e.g., for image documents) can now be created via the SOAP interface.
  • Fixed a number of the parameters to the list() method of the Story, Media, and Template classes to properly handle an argument using the ANY operator. These include the keyword and category_uri parameters. Passing an ANY argument to these parameters before this release could cause a well-populated database to lock up with an impossible query for hours at a time.
  • Template sandboxes now work for the Template Toolkit burner.

For a complete list of the changes, see the changes. For the complete history of ongoing changes in Bricolage, see Bric::Changes.

Download Bricolage 1.8.2 now from the Bricolage Website Downloads page, from the SourceForge download page, and from the Kineticode download page.

About Bricolage

Bricolage is a full-featured, enterprise-class content management and publishing system. It offers a browser-based interface for ease-of use, a full-fledged templating system with complete HTML::Mason, HTML::Template, and Template Toolkit support for flexibility, and many other features. It operates in an Apache/mod_perl environment and uses the PostgreSQL RDBMS for its repository. A comprehensive, actively-developed open source CMS, Bricolage was hailed as “quite possibly the most capable enterprise-class open-source application available” by eWEEK.

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Introduction to Bricolage Published by Perl.com

Perl.com has published the first in a series of articles I’ve promised to write, “Content Management with Bricolage.” The article is targeted at organizational decision makers who need to evaluate Bricolage as part of their selection of a content management solution. So I’ve spent some time discussing what content management is and how Bricolage fits in. I mention a lot of other CMSes as for comparative purposes, to try to really give people a feel for how Bricolage can meet their needs.

I also go over some of Bricolage’s most important features, such as multisite management, document modeling, Perl templating, meaningful URLs, workflow, and any number of outputs via “output channels.” The article concludes with a list of sites known to be managed by Bricolage, as well as the promise for more.

The next article in the series will cover installation and configuration. Subsequent articles will cover document analysis and modeling, Mason templating, and fun with the SOAP server. Enjoy!

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Always use the C Locale with PostgreSQL

I ran into the weirdest bug with Bricolage today. We use the LIKE operator to do string comparisons throughout Bricolage. In one usage, the code checks to see if there’s a record in the “keyword” table before creating it. This is because keyword names are unique. So it looks for a keyword record like this:

SELECT name, screen_name, sort_name, active
  FROM   keyword

If it finds a keyword, it creates a relationship between it and a story document. If it doesn’t find it, it creates a new keyword record and then associates the new keyword with a story document.

However, one of our customers was getting SQL errors when attempting to add keywords to a story, and it took me a while to figure out what the problem was. This is because I couldn’t replicate the problem until I started trying to create multibyte keywords. Now, Bricolage uses a UTF-8 PostgreSQL database, but something very odd was going on. When I attempted to add the keyword “북한의”, it didn’t find an existing keyword, but then threw an error when the unique index thought it existed already! Running tests in psql, I found that = would find the existing record, but LIKE wouldn’t!

Once I posted a query on the pgsql-general list, someone noticed that the record returned when using = actually had a different value than was actually queried for. I had searched for “북한의”, but the database found “국방비”. It seems that = compares bytes, while LIKE compares characters. The error I was getting meant that the unique index was also using bytes. And because of the locale used when initdb was run, PostgreSQL thought that they actually were the same!

The solution to this problem, it turns out, was to dump the database, shut down PostgreSQL, move the old data directory, and create a new one with initdb -locale=C. I then restored the database, and suddenly = and LIKE (and the unique index) were doing the same thing. Hallelujah!

Naturally, I’m not the first to notice this issue. It’s particularly an issue with RedHat Linux installations, since RedHat has lately decided to set a system-wide locale. In my case, it was “en_US.UTF-8.” This apparently can break collations in other languages, and this affects indices, of course. So I was led to wonder if initdb shouldn’t default to a locale of C instead of the system default. What do you think?

You can read the whole thread here.

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eWeek Reviews Bricolage 1.8.1

I can’t believe I haven’t posted this story here yet! I guess I’ve been busy. So here it is:

eWeek has reviewed Bricolage, the Perl-powered, PostgreSQL-backed open-source content management system. The article was published last week. An excerpt:

Bricolage is quite possibly the most capable enterprise-class open-source application available. The Web content management application features excellent administration capabilities, and it is highly extensible and capable of managing even the biggest and most complex Web sites. As an open-source product, Bricolage is free, and companies can now purchase support and development services from Kineticode.

The article is part of the “Content Management Face-Off” in the current issue of eWeek:

Included in this evaluation are the open-source Bricolage 1.8.1, Interwoven Inc.’s TeamSite 6.1, CrownPeak Technology Inc.’s Advantage CMS, Serena Software Inc.’s Collage 4.5, PaperThin Inc.’s CommonSpot Content Server 4.0 and Ektron Inc.’s CMS300 4.5. (The reviews are ordered, roughly, from the high end to the low end of the content management market.)

I’m pretty stoked about this review, as you might imagine. eWeek is now officially my favorite trade magazine!

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Discovering Bricolage at OSCON

My presentation went off well yesterday. It was in a small room, and I was delighted to find that it was standing room only. Several people told me later that they weren’t able to even get into the room. I told Nat that next year he’d have to give me a keynote.

This is a new version of my usual presentation. It simplifies some things, and uses the new Bricolage Website for its example. I think that it was positively received. I’ve worked hard to try to make the presentation engaging, and it was nice that I didn’t lose my audience; no one left during the presentation that I noticed (although it was mighty crowded in the back!). So I’m happy with it.

I exported the presentation to PDF, and added the movie that runs at the beginning as a set of slides ahead of the main presentation content. You can download the presentation from the Kineticode Website.

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New Bricolage Website Launched!


The launch of the new Bricolage Website went off without a hitch yesterday. The lack of sleep getting it all just so was worth it, in the end. And I’m very very pleased with the new site. It looks good, it’s easy to navigate, it has really nice semantic XHTML 1.1 that degrades nicely in older browsers (check it out in Netscape Navigator 4.x or in lynx!

The new content on the site is good, too. There’s a lot more information for people who have heard of Bricolage and are hitting the site for the first time to try to learn something about it. We now explain what it is and what it’s for on the home page, and have a nice set of pages describing the benefits of Bricolage, listing the sites known to be powered by Bricolage, and providing screenshots to give folks a feel for how nice the Bricolage UI is. Special thanks to Marshall Roch for providing the new design and the home page content.

This is the first Bricolage Website to be managed in Bricolage itself. I decided to create the new site for a number of reasons, but two of the more important ones were: to have a nice example for conference and client presentations; and to be able to release the Bricolage Mason templates that generate the site. These templates have now been released and are available for download on the Bricolage Website. I’ve worked hard to try to make them really good examples of best practices in using Bricolage so that people can download them, study them, and be able to start writing smart templates for their on Bricolage implementations. So enjoy!

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New Bricolage Website Beta

After a couple of weeks of hard work, with lots of assistance from Marshall Roch, I’m just about ready to launch the new Bricolage Website. Thanks to hardware and hosting provided by NetStumbler.com, we now have a fully functioning Bricolage installation and Web server for the bricolage.cc domain.

The new site will launch just before my OSCON talk on Wednesday. In addition to having the great Web standards-compliant layout (thanks Marshall!) and a decent amount of extra content, the templates for the site will be made available for download, too. The templates will make a great “best practices” example, both for bricoleurs and Bricolage evaluators. I think they nicely show off the flexibility of the Bricolage CMS platform.

So do you want to see the beta? I’m making it available only to my fellow Bricolage developers and to you, the readers of my blog. Just point your browser at www.bricolage.cc, and then just s/www/beta/ to see the new site. I’m not providing a direct link to it here because it’s going to go away on Wednesday and I don’t want to get any 404s. Feel free to send me feedback on the new site–anything about it: design, layout, XHTML, CSS, etc.

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Bricolage 1.8.1 Released

The Bricolage development team is pleased to announce the release of Bricolage 1.8.1. This maintenance release address a number of issues in Bricolage 1.8.0. Here are the highlights:


  • More complete Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese localizations. Also, the Mandarin localization now simply inherits from the Traditional Chinese localization.
  • make clone now copies the lib directory and all of the bin scripts from the target to the clone, rather than from the sources. This allows any changes that have been made to scripts and classes to be properly cloned.
  • When installing Bricolage, it will now allow you to proceed if the database already exists by asking if you want to create the Bricolage tables in the existing database. Suggested by Mark Fournier and Marshall Roch.
  • The installer is now a bit smarter in how it handles loading the log_config (or config_log, as the case may be) module.
  • Added language-specific style sheets. This is especially useful for right-to-left languages or for languages that require special fonts.
  • The “New Alias” search interface now displays thumbnails when searching for media documents to alias and the USE_THUMBNAILS bricolage.conf directive is enabled.
  • Aliases can now be made to documents within the same site.
  • The SOAP interface for importing and exporting elements now properly has “key_name” XML elements instead of “name” XML elements. The changes are backwards compatible with XML exported from Bricolage 1.8.0 servers, however.
  • Added move() method to the virtual FTP interface. This means that to deploy a template, rather than having to rename it locally to append “.deploy” one can simply move in FTP to its new name with “.deploy” on appended to the new name.
  • Document expirations are now somewhat more intelligent. Rather than just scheduling an expiration job only if there is an expiration date the first time a document is published, Bricolage will now always schedule an expiration job for a document provided that one does not already exist (scheduled or completed) for the same time and for one of the file resources for the document. This should allow people to more easily and arbitrarily expire content whenever necessary.
  • Burner notes now persist for all sub burns (triggered by publish_another() and preview_another() in a single burn.
  • Added ability to create and manage groups of objects for several different types of objects. Also added the ability manage group membership within the administrative profiles for those objects. This change makes it possible to give users permission to administer subsets of objects. The new groupable objects are:
    • Preferences
    • Groups
    • Alert Types
    • Element Types
    • Keywords
    • Contributors
  • Alert rules are now evaluated within a safe compartment (using Safe.pm) to prevent security exploits.
  • The Bulk Publish admin tool is no longer limited to use only by members of the Global Admins group. Now anyone can use it. All one needs is READ permission to the categories of stories, and PUBLISH permission to the stories and media documents to be published.

Bug Fixes

  • Eliminated “Bareword “ENABLE_HTMLAREA” not allowed while “strict subs” in use” warning that prevented startup for some installations.
  • Changes made to user or contributor contacts without changing any other part of the user or contributor object are now properly saved.
  • The upgrade to 1.8.0 now correctly updates story URIs that use the URI Suffix of an output channel instead of using the URI Prefix twice.
  • Aliases of Image, Audio, or Video media documents no longer remain stuck on desks.
  • Related media and story subelements of media documents now work properly.
  • Calls to preview_another() in Bric::Util::Burner will now use any templates in the current user’s sandbox and properly burn them to the preview root rather than to the staging root used for publishing.
  • Contributor fields for roles other than the default role now properly store and retain their values.
  • The virtual FTP server now properly checks out templates when a template is uploaded and is already in workflow.
  • Uploading a non-existent template via the virtual FTP server now correctly creates a new template. The type of template depends on the name of the template being uploaded, and for element templates, on whether there is an element with the appropriate key name. The user must have CREATE permission to All Templates or to the start desk in the first template workflow in the relevant site.
  • Reverting a document or template to the current version number now properly reverts all changes to the time the user checked out the document or template. Reversion is also a bit more efficient in how it looks up the previous version in the database.
  • The SOAP server now rolls back any changes whenever an error is thrown. This prevents problems when a few objects are created or updated before an exception is thrown. Now any error will cause the entire SOAP request to fail. Thanks to Neal Sofge for the spot!

For a complete list of the changes, see the release notes and changes list. For the complete history of ongoing changes in Bricolage, see Bric::Changes.

Download Bricolage 1.8.1 now from the SourceForge download page or from the Kineticode download page

About Bricolage

Bricolage is a full-featured, enterprise-class content management and publishing system. It offers a browser-based interface for ease-of use, a full-fledged templating system with complete HTML::Mason, HTML::Template, and Template Toolkit support for flexibility, and many other features. It operates in an Apache/mod_perl environment and uses the PostgreSQL RDBMS for its repository. A comprehensive, actively-developed open source CMS, Bricolage was hailed as “Most Impressive” in 2002 by eWeek.


–The Bricolage Team

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Fun with Module::Build Argument Processing

I’ve spend the better part of the last two days working on a custom subclass of Module::Build to build Bricolage 2.0. It’s going to be a lot nicer than the nasty custom Makefile that Bricolage 1.x uses. The reason I’m creating a custom subclass of Module::Build is to be able to do a lot of the extra stuff that building Bricolage requires. Such as:

  • Copying configuration files from conf/ into blib
  • Copying configuration files from conf/ into t for testing
  • Copying configuration files from comp/ into blib
  • Modifying Bricolage::Util::Config to contain a hard-coded reference to the location of bricolage.conf once Bricolage has been installed
  • Modifying the contents of bricolage.conf to reflect build options (forthcoming)
  • Modifying the contents of httpd.conf to reflect build options (forthcoming)

I’m sure there will be more as Bricolage develops (such as building the database!), but this is enough for now. I’ve also been hacking on Module::Build itself to add features I want. For example, I want users to be able to pass options to Build.PL when they call it, so that it can do silent installs. As it is, you can pass options now, but Module::Build’s option processing lacks flexibility. For example, you can pass options like this:

perl Build.PL opt1=val1 opt2=val2

And Module::Build will store the options in a hash like this:

{ "opt1" => "val1",
  "opt2" => "val2" }

It understands options that use --, too; This invocation

perl Build.PL --opt1 val1 --opt2 val2

produces the same hash. But be careful how you specify arguments! For example, Modul::Build doesn’t understand unary options or options that use both -- and =>! To whit, this invocation

perl Build.PL --loud --opt1=val1 --opt2=val2 --foobar

Yields a hash like this:

{ "loud" => "--opt1=val1",
  "opt2=val2" => "--foobar" }

Certainly not what I would expect! So to get great flexibility, I sent a patch to the Module::Build mail list adding a new parameter to new(): get_options. This is an array reference of options that will be passed to Getopt::Long::GetOptions() before Module::Build parses arguments. It stores the results in the same hash as Module::Build normally does, and options not specified in get_options will be processed by Module::Build just as before. But it gives a whole lot more control over what gets grabbed. For example, if I were to try to get that last example to do what I want, all I’d need to do is pass in the appropriate Getopt::Long specs:

my $build = Module::Build->new(
    module_name => "Spangly",
    get_options => [ "loud+", "opt1=s", "opt2=s", "foobar" ],

Now, the hash yielded is:

{ "loud"   => "1",
  "opt1"   => "val1",
  "opt2"   => "val2",
  "foobar" => "1" }

Isn’t that nicer? And because the full suite of Getopt::Long specification is supported, you can get even fancier:

my $loud = 0;
my $build = Module::Build->new(
    module_name => "Spangly",
    get_options => [ "loud+" => \$loud, "foobar!" ],

Now this invocation:

perl Build.PL --loud --loud --nofoobar

…sets the $loudscalar to 2, while the args hash is simply { "foobar" => "0" }. Cool, eh?

Now I’ve just been discussing the patch with Dave Rolsky on the mail list, and he argues that, while this is a good idea in principal, he’d rather see a data-structure based argument list rather than Getopt::Long’s magical strings. Perhaps Module::Build will end up “Borging” some of the ideas from Getopt::Simple. But either way, I think that better argument processing is on the way for Module::Build.

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Bricolage 2.0 UML Diagram

I’ve just finished updating the UML diagram for the design of Bricolage 2.0. It’s not completely comprehensive, mainly because the lines would start criss-crossing all over the place and no one would never be able to make any sense of it, including me! Notably, I’ve left out the links to Bricolage::Biz::Site, Bricolage::Biz::Class, Bricolage::Party::Person::User, and Bricolage::Party::Person::Contributor. But it’s pretty clear how they hook up if you study the classes, since they contain the appropriate *_guid attributes. And that’s all those of us who will be writing Bricolage will need.

I’m happy to get this largely done. The technical specification is also largely complete. I’m going to fill in a bit on Bricolage::Client::CLI right now, but otherwise, it will probably be stable for a while. It will change of course, because it’s not completely comprehensive, and there will be things that I haven’t thought about as I’m starting to code. But that’s probably a ways off, as there is quite a lot to get going with right now.

I’m not sure if I’ll update the functional specification anytime soon. It’s really out of date, but would take up quite a lot of time to rewrite, and for what benefit I’m not really sure at this point. The technical spec contains most of the information I need. Perhaps it will be time to update the functional spec once the API is nearing completeness and I start really working on the UI.

In the meantime, it’s time to get back to hacking!

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