A blog is not just for a website…

As I mentioned the other day I’m looking into ways to provide a backup of each Wiblog so that should the unthinkable occur, we’d be able to rebuild the entire Wiblog system. My idea is that users would be able to download a backup file (probably XML) of their entire Wiblog, and that there would be a couple of other ways to make sure that data is safe.

I’m not the only one with this idea. Joe Brockmeier over at Newsforge has a similar thought, but relates this to being able to move data from one blog or content management system to another easily. Shared formats are good, I like them.

Matt Mower and Paolo Valdemarin discussed this well over a year ago as well, and both have great comments to make.

So, how would this work? As Matt rightly says, a single RSS file with all blog posts could easily get unwieldy, so I subscribe to his notion that archives should be available in chunks – monthly archives make sense to me. If the system can wrap the archives up into an archived file (.zip, .tar or somesuch) then so much the better.

Then what we need is a file to link all the monthly archives together. Fortunately we can use OPML for that. And we need a way of storing additonal configuration, if required. That could include (for the Wiblogs at least) the list of bloggers and whether comments are enabled, as well as a whole myriad of other bits of data.

So once we have this collection of files, we have a complete archive of the blog. Hmm, it’s not ideal, is it? A single-file archive would be so much better. Gah, the devil surely is in the details with stuff like this!

Anyway, one thing I can say is that the new Wiblog system will – eventually – offer a downloadable, printable version of your Wiblog that you can use as a book template. That’s right – your Wiblog in a book! The options I’ve messed about with so far are: one post or multiple posts per page; A4, letter or A5 size; include extra information (tags etc).

The printable version will also contain your Wiblog name, address, icon and other nice features like page number and a list of links in each post. It will also have a page for your credits, you’ll be able to set these yourself, and an index page.

I’m trying to iron out some technical problems (like, having enough time to do this) but once I do I’ll announce it properly.