Project:Rosetta - Status & Behind The Scenes

Posted on Sun 18 November 2012 in project rosetta

For quite some time now friends have been asking me whether my novel (working title: “Project: Rosetta”) is dead. They haven’t used quite those exact words but that’s what their questions amounted to in my head.

Project:Rosetta is not dead

Now I could say that I was incredibly busy working on the tagstore project in summer, preparations for university in fall and working hard for university and the Game Jam project and therefor had no time to work on my novel. However I am not a fan of lying, especially when talking about a project that is so dear to me as Rosetta is. The simple truth is that I’ve been preoccupied with reading RSS feeds, playing games and listening to podcasts. To cut a long story short I’ve been a lazy, unproductive bum and in hindsight that makes me sad.

That’s not to say that there hasn’t been any progress at Rosetta. I’ve constantly been evaluating new ideas, modifying existing concepts that I liked in other creative works and working on a rough draft for the main story arc. I’ve also put quite some thoughts into romance - for the parts in the book, not my own.

But there’s also another little project of mine whose fate is tightly interwoven with Rosetta’s. I am building a platform for my beta readers. It will not have its focus on community or anything similar however. Its sole aim will be to automate the process of generating exactly the kind of website and reading environment for my readers that I need without the need for a database.
Maybe I should elaborate a bit on my reason for doing so.
I am comfortable, but not entirely satisfied using WordPress for my blog. At the time of this writing I’m also using a WordPress based site for the Beta reader area of Rosetta. That has a big issue: in order to update a post one has to use the web interface or access the database directly. The web interface is horrible and has me doing updates and corrections manually, which sucks. On the other hand I don’t feel comfortable enough working directly in the database. Updating any part of Rosetta this way is by far more tedious than it should be.

The Tech

The way I aim to do those task in the future is handling my markdown files locally in a git repository and having a hook do everything for me in the background automatically. That means, amongst other things, converting everything to HTML, creating the index, writing the changelog, updating the news section and uploading only changed and new files. If I am overly motivated I might even write a caching feature so that the whole thing doesn’t go haywire if I commit something while being offline.

What I have so far is snippets that I am puzzling together because I am developing the features one by one.

  • FTP upload works
  • Markdown to HTML conversion via Pandoc works, but does not yet have my own CSS file
  • Getting the server username and password from the OS X Keychain works
  • Reading the server name (and additional future configuration options) from an XML file works

This is as far as I got during two long nights trying stuff and reading quite some Python documentation.

I hope that this post explains why updates to the prose part of Rosetta have been so slow and demonstrates that I have no intention of abandoning this project.