Squirrel Notes Issue #44

This issue was published on Monday, April 6, 2020.

New Web Project Guide Chapters: We're getting near the end of the Web Project Guide. We just released Chapters 19 and 20. Chapter 19 is about implementing the front-end, but you might be more interested in Chapter 20, which is all about back-end CMS configuration.

We talk about:

  • Model Implementation
  • Editorial Experience
  • Aggregations
  • Templating and Output
  • Request Mapping and the Operative Content Object
  • Template Languages

...and all the other things you need to do to get a CMS implementation up and running.

The book is planned for 24 chapters. It should wrap up by early summer.


The Problem of Vendor Bullying: Vendors can sometimes be problematic. Tony Byrne from Real Story Group put together a quick post about how vendors can bully prospects.

Beware MarTech Vendor Bullying

An example of what he's talking about.

High ranking executives from the major software vendor demand a meeting with your your boss' boss or a C-level executive. Given that this vendor is probably working with others parts of your enterprise and everyone wants to maintain this relationship, they usually get the meeting. Or they have already networked with your leadership at industry events.

I've seen this happen. A lot of selections are actually made in backroom deals, and sometimes RFPs are issued when a vendor has already been picked.


Setext for Plain Text Formatting: Someone mentioned the other day that Setext was 28 years old. I'm contractually required to look into any technology or company with “text” in the name, so I checked it out.

Setext is “Structure Enhanced Text,” and was developed by the legendary Apple email newsletter TidBITS. It was designed to format plain text (and they mean really plain; 7-bit ASCII).

It looks a little like Markdown, with one important difference: it predates HTML. So it was never even intended to be transformed into HTML. It was literally meant to simply format ASCII text, full stop.

Here's the original newsletter announcement of Setext, from 1992.

We'll be publishing more about the format itself as time goes by, but for now suffice it to say that there are vast advantages of using a consistently-defined text format, both for you that read us online and offline and for ourselves, the publishers.

And, get this, there were plans for a Setext browser:

In time – not too distant, we promise – there will be special setext browsers to automate the task of searching, archiving and transforming bits of the encoded material into WYSIMOLWYG (“What You See Is More Or Less What You Get”), to permit navigation in large archived mass of data, and more. At least two people are currently writing setext browsers, and they will not be specific to TidBITS but to any setext publication that conforms to the format.

And fully 14 years later, we got Markdown.


Netlify Funding Round: Developer-friendly CMS platform Netlify just closed a significant funding round of $53 million on top of the $30 million it already had.

Netlify claims to have more than tripled revenue over the past 12 months thanks to a threefold jump in the number of paying customers using its platform.


Perch's Template-Driven Modeling: For reasons I don't quite remember, I watched this video on Perch templating. I mentioned Perch in my book as the cheapest commercial CMS on the market (it's $69, one-time).

Watch at 2:00 when the developer inserts template tags. You can see that the template tags themselves seem to be a form of model configuration.

Then, at 7:20, look at the edit form. Now, I don't claim to know everything about Perch, but it looks to me that it configured the model (or at least the editor) by parsing the template.

That's a neat trick.