Switching fromTypo to Mephisto - some concerns

19 Aug 2006

I wrote earlier about installing Mephisto on Dreamhost and my first reactions to it. It installed successfully and I actually got the thing working but then it became apparent that there were some serious problems.

I accept full responsibility for my misconceptions about Mephisto. I didn’t research it, I didn’t ask anybody about it. Still, I was surprised to find that it’s very immature software. For those who don’t already know: Mephisto is in ALPHA.

Now, I have to admit that it looks great and I think Liquid (can somebody get me a URL with info about Liquid?) is an excellent choice for theme designing. Also, I respect that it’s got the backing of Rick Olson and some other talented developers.

I hope nobody takes this the wrong way because I do intend to get Mephisto up and running and to use it as a primary blogging system and I’ve got lots of respect for the folks involved. Still, for now I’ll have to stick with Typo. It’s a little bulky but it does the job. Plus, new stuff in the Rails trunk will allow the Typo team to greatly reduce some of the redundancies and workarounds in the Typo code.

Problems I had with Mephisto:

It can’t be installed in a subdirectory

This was the show-stopper. I’ve been using the root of my domain (6brand.com) for this blog but I intend to transition to using a dedicated subdirectory (6brand.com/hoopla). This is where I installed Mephisto and it doesn’t know it’s not at the domain root.
The Admin section works just fine (well, regarding this particular problem) but the layouts all assume that it’s hosted at the domain root. I saw some discussion about this on the Mephisto Google Group but most of the answers told people to set ActionController::AbstractRequest.relative_url_root = "/subdir" in environment.rb
This may be an acceptable hack for Rails developers but there aren’t many good reasons for why the Blog_URL set in the Admin menus can’t tell the app where it’s served from.

Other bugs:

I think it has poor session management. I kept getting logged out after a minute or so.
Users cannot be deleted.
There are links in the admin section that take you straight to a 500 error. The Mephisto team is working on an Assets menu but for now it’s just an error-generator.
The settings menu is really counter-intuitive. There are buttons on the top to take you to different parts of the menu but they’re only linked to anchors within the current page - and it’s a really small page. One of the sections doesn’t even exist on the page.

So it’s a no-go for me right now. I’m gonna leave in installed (you’re welcome to check it out: http://6brand.com/hoopla) but it may not be usable for some time.

  • Chris said: Liquid homepage: http://home.leetsoft.com/liquid
  • Danger said: I don't know why I couldn't find that but thanks Chris!
  • rick said: 'It can’t be installed in a subdirectory' That's a rails problem, not a Mephisto problem necessarily. I'd love it if someone could solve it though. I decided not to allow user deletions because I didn't want to deal with things like articles pointing to missing users. Perhaps we'll end up hiding disabled users from the UI at some point. Yes, the UI is a little incomplete. It's still technically alpha after all. Mephisto 1.0 will be the complete, no-shit, real deal though. Thanks for the feedback!
  • rick said: 'It can’t be installed in a subdirectory' That's a rails problem, not a Mephisto problem necessarily. I'd love it if someone could solve it though. I decided not to allow user deletions because I didn't want to deal with things like articles pointing to missing users. Perhaps we'll end up hiding disabled users from the UI at some point. Yes, the UI is a little incomplete. It's still technically alpha after all. Mephisto 1.0 will be the complete, no-shit, real deal though. Thanks for the feedback!
  • rick said: Ugh, bit by the double post bug! Sorry! Two more things: rake db:bootstrap is a task I added to load the schema and insert fixture data (default user, site, section, etc) in a single step. Still, I think rake db:schema:load should be the standard install step if you're not using rake db:bootstrap (though, I'll be adding it for Rails 1.2). Using migrations from revision 1 wasn't an established habit of mine back when I started Mephisto in December, so the first migration isn't the initial. Also, my last name is Olson, not like the Olsen twins :)
  • Danger said: My bad about screwing up your last name Rick, I'll go fix that! Rereading my post I'm not sure I communicated that I love where Mephisto is going. It's just that there's not a lot out there about it other than "it rules" so I didn't realize until too late that it was still alpha. I intend to continue to test it and use it - right on through to the no-shit, super-awesome 1.0 release and beyond. I'd like to look into the subdirectory issue. It didn't seem to be a massive problem, just in a few key areas of linking to resources. I might play around and see what it would take to fix that. Thanks for the follow-up Rick!

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