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Thursday, October 18, 2007
What About Conversant?
7:20:50 AM | Permalink | Discuss | Reply (1)

With all the work we do on BBEdit for Bare Bones these days, some friends and clients have asked me, "What about Conversant?"

Conversant is still loved, don't worry. In fact, here are the three things I'm working on, and hope to have ready by the end of the year:

  • Tagging — Enough with the annoying ‘category checkboxes.’ Other sites and systems have proven a million times over that people prefer free form tagging. (That is, "categorize" your messages by typing words or quoted phrases, rather than selecting from a predefined list of checkboxes.) Not that the old way will go away. They may even work together.
  • Tweeting - Sites (conversations), zones and servers will be able to tweet. Because it's easy, that's why.
  • MySQL - This one has been on hold, but I can't let it wait forever. We'll be able to move individual sites over to a SQL database. This may or may not be done by the end of the year.

Monday, April 10, 2006
Patterns Contest!
High 11:52:24 AM | Permalink | Discuss | Reply (0)

Want a top-of-the-line iPod, some free music, or a year of Conversant hosting?

There's a new contest, going on through May 31st, where you can win those prizes! Design a great Conversant site, submit your pattern, and you could win one of the prizes.

Note: patterns are XML files that contain the templates, pages, stylesheets, and preferences to configure a Conversant site. All Conversant sites include easy-to-use tools for creating patterns and/or installing patterns in your site.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005
Answering the Question, "What is Conversant?"
5:09:49 PM | Permalink | Discuss | Reply (0)

Over the years, many people have asked the question, "What is Conversant? What does it do?"

That's a big question, and a big question deserves a big answer.

Comments and feedback are welcome.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003
WYSIWYG Editing in Conversant
2:30:42 PM | Permalink | Discuss | Reply (0)

Thanks to Clark Venable's sponsorship, Conversant now has a nearly-complete WYSIWYG editor! You can see it in action here or on Clark's site.

It supports Internet Explorer on Windows, and Mozilla 1.3b+ on any platform. Same features in both browsers.

The HTML editor is a modified version of HTMLArea from, built into a new Conversant plug-in.

At the moment it's only "nearly-complete" because it isn't configurable. Soon it will have a few options for which features to include in the toolbar. When this is done, it will be made available for download (for use with your own Conversant server). Also, it will be built-in to all paid hosting accounts on Free-Conversant.

Thursday, March 27, 2003
Manila to Conversant Conversion Tool
2:04:49 PM | Permalink | Discuss | Reply (0)

We've (nearly) completed a tool for converting old Manila sites to new Conversant sites.

Conversant and Manila are very different pieces of software, written for different reasons, but they do have some overlap. It's that overlap that allows the conversion tool to set up a Conversant site based on the contents of a Manila site.

It doesn't (yet) convert the template(s) over, but it does:

  • Convert shortcuts to type-specific resources (images, links, text, etc)
  • Import all messages
  • Duplicate the site structure by publishing messages and creating directories
  • Import all images as attachments, and set up the image-messages to display the images just like in the Manila site
  • Set up a *new* Weblog page with all of the contents of the Manila weblog.

The Manila site can be local (running in the local copy of Frontier) or on a remote server if you have xml-rpc access. The Conversant site can also be local or on a remote server. Obviously, it runs fastest if they're both local.

This tool was originally written for our own use as we occasionally have to convert a site over for someone, but we might release it (for free). It runs on both Frontier and Radio.

If you'd find a tool like this useful, please let us know.

Thursday, February 06, 2003
Editing a Conversant Weblog with NetNewsWire Pro
High 6:02:31 PM | Permalink | Discuss | Reply (4)

Ranchero Software (Brent Simmons) has posted instructions for editing a Conversant weblog with NetNewsWire Pro. The instructions were written by Robert Daeley.

Friday, October 25, 2002
Little Things Come in Big Packages
2:49:36 PM | Permalink | Discuss | Reply (0)

A recent, relatively minor update to Conversant could only be completed by rewriting several other components (to make them better, also). Read the full story on Seth Dillingham's personal site.

Monday, October 21, 2002
Getting Started with Archipelago 2.0
High 8:00:17 AM | Permalink | Discuss | Reply (0)

Daniel Berlinger has released Getting Started documentation for Archipelago. The docs include a section on using the software with Conversant.

Archipelago is a MacOS 9 and OS X application for posting to weblog software that supports the Blogger API, MetaWeblog API, and the Manila RPC interface.)

Thursday, September 19, 2002
Enclosures in Conversant
11:33:10 AM | Permalink | Discuss | Reply (0)

Clark Venable asked a question on the free-conversant support site. He wanted to know how Conversant handles enclosures, including where they are stored and how they are served.

The answer is, of course, that Conversant will do it however you want it to. The full answer explains in more detail.

Wednesday, September 18, 2002
Mail Servers with Conversant
High 2:41:40 PM | Permalink | Discuss | Reply (0)

We've had some questions about which mail servers work best with Conversant. We can't actually answer that question, as we don't know which is best (we haven't tried them all). This page tells you what we (Macrobyte and some of our customers) have used.

If you want specific information about setting up any of these mail servers to work with your Conversant server, or would like help setting up a different mail server for use with Conversant, please post a reply to this message.

Macrobyte's Original Setup

Originally (Autumn, 1999 - Summer, 2002), Macrobyte used Eudora Internet Mail Server (EIMS), LetterRip Pro, and Frontier, on separate MacOS 9 machines.

  • EIMS provided the POP accounts and SMTP server for Conversant.

  • LetterRip provided the mailing-list services. When a conversation was created on any of our Conversant servers, a new list would automatically be created in LetterRip. When someone subscribed to a conversation's email interface, the address would automatically be added to LetterRip's list.

  • Communication was handled between the Conversant, EIMS, and LetterRip servers via XML-RPC. Frontier was installed on both the EIMS and LetterRip servers to receive the XML-RPC commands and convert them into appleevents for controlling EIMS and LetterRip.

This setup worked very well for two-and-a-half years, and did a nice job of distributing server tasks between multiple machines.

Macrobyte's Current Setup

This summer, we moved both the list and mail servers to a single Mac OS X box, running non-GUI server applications. Exim is our SMTP (and mail list) server, and UW IMAP provides the POP services.

This new setup is extremely flexible and far less of a resource drain than the old. Performance is improved (messages sent to/from Conversant are delivered more quickly), and the mail server is much more secure (no longer an open relay). It's also easier to manage, with everything on a single machine and available via telnet/ssh.

Other Setups

Macrobyte's clients use a variety of systems, including:

If you're interested in running Conversant along side these or any other mail servers, please let us know how we can help.

October 2007
Sep Nov

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