Thingamablog - Frequently Asked Questions
What is Thingamablog?

Thingamablog is a cross-platform, standalone desktop blogging application. The operative word here is “standalone,” meaning you don’t need to bother with configuring cgi/php/mySQL. The only requirement to create, and manage, a professional looking, flexible blog is FTP, SFTP, or network access to your webserver.

Thingamablog was designed with ease of use in mind. Blogging applications should be easy enough for the non-techy, yet robust enough for the needs of most users. Rather than spending time worrying about what services your webserver supports, or editing complicated server-side scripts, you can set up a fully functional weblog in minutes with Thingamablog.

What do I need to get started?

To run the application, you must have Java 1.6 or greater installed on your computer. Java can be downloaded free of charge.

To publish to the web, all you need is a FTP, SFTP, or network access to a web host.

If you don't currently have a web host, getting one is easy. Typically ISPs give their subscribers a few megabytes of web space. In addition, there are several free, or low cost, web hosting services available. There aren't any special server requierments to use Thingamablog. Practically any web host will work fine.

If you don't already have a web host, an excellent host that works great with Thingamablog, is Yen 9. They provide everything you need at an extremely affordable price. Only $1 USD per month!

It doesn't start

Thingamablog requires Java 1.6 or higher to run. Are you sure you have Java installed? If you’re sure it’s installed, is it the right version?

To check if you’re running a compatible version of Java, open a command prompt/shell and enter “java –version”. You should see something like…

java version "1.6.0_11"
Java(TM) SE Runtime Environment (build 1.6.0_11-b03)
Java HotSpot(TM) Client VM (build 11.0-b16, mixed mode, sharing)

How should I set the publishing locations?

When you create a new weblog you must supply two pieces of information; the Base Path and the Base URL of the weblog.

The Base Path is the path on the FTP server, network, or disk drive that you upload the files to. Typically for FTP this path is either "/" or "/public_html", or something similar If you're publishing via FTP and are unsure of what your path is, you can obtain it from a standard FTP client such as FileZilla.

The Base URL is the top most URL the weblog will have. It must begin with the protocol and should not end with a filename. Examples of valid base URLs might be http://www.yourblog.com, http://www.yourblog.com/subfolder/blog, etc.

The Base Path seems to cause the most confusion for users. Probably because most users don’t usually notice what the FTP path to their public html directory is.

So, then, let's assume that we know the Base URL of our blog is http://myblog.com. But what should we enter for the Base Path? The Base Path should be the path on the server to make pages visible at our URL http://myblog.com.

An easy way to determine the Base Path is to upload a test file using a standard FTP client, make a note of the "remote path" in the FTP client, and then ensure that the file is visible under the URL from a web browser

How can I add comments to my blog entries?

Because Thingamablog was designed to generate pages locally, rather than assuming what users can or cannot run on the server-side, there aren’t any native Thingamablog commenting capabilities. However, you can still incorporate commenting into your blog. There are free third-party add-ons that will work just great with Thingamablog blogs. Most of these services are "Thingamablog Ready," and are quite easy to implement into your templates.

Below are just a few free commenting add-ons that work with Thingamablog.

Can I use Thingamablog with my .mac account?

Yes you can. Simply use the "Local" publish transport to publish your weblog to your iDisk. Then sync up your iDisk as usual.

The Base Path and Base URL, should look something like this:

Base Path: /Volumes/myiDiskName/Sites/username
Base URL: http://homepage.mac.com/username

Or, if you wanted your blog in a sub folder of your site, something like this:

Base Path: /Volumes/myiDiskName/Sites/username/my_blog
Base URL: http://homepage.mac.com/username/my_blog

Can I use Thingamablog if my webserver is on a local or network drive?

Yes you can. When you set up the publish transport, select “Local.” Thingamablog will then publish your web pages to a directory on the local or networked drive.

When I publish via FTP, the files are empty and have 0 bytes on the server.

This is likely due to a personal firewall setting that you have on your computer.

It may help to enable or disable the "Passive" setting in Thingamablog's FTP publishing options.

For more information see the following links...
http://www.modwest.com/help/kb16-186.html
http://service1.symantec.com/SUPPORT/num.nsf/pfdocs/2003013010180811

I get an error that says "Unable to open database"

Typically, this error results from the blog's database folder being moved, renamed, deleted, or generally mucked around with. As a result Thingamablog tries to open a a non-existant user.xml file when it restarts. Try re-opening the user.xml file of your blogs. i.e File/Open Database...

Please note that it's a good idea not to mess with the contents of the blog database folder outside of the program. It is, however, a very good idea to make frequent backups of this folder.

Another cause might be due to more than one instance of Thingamablog running. Only one instance of the program at a time can have access to the database.

Finally, it's possible that your database has somehow become corrupted. Although the DB is generally quite resilient (I've used Thingamablog since 2003 and have personally never been able to corrupt a DB) some users seem to run across this problem from time to time.

Usually the following steps are able to fix it:

  1. Close Thingamablog
  2. Open the file "database.script" in a text editor. You can find this file in the "database" sub folder where you originally created your blog.. i.e the folder where you saved user.xml.
  3. Remove any garbled text from the end of the database.script file. After removing the garbage, the last line of this file should be something like: CREATE ALIAS REPLACE FOR "org.hsqldb.Library.replace"
  4. Open the file database.properties and change the line "modified=yes" to "modified=no"
  5. Restart Thingamablog and hopefully you'll be back in business.

One final thought... If your continue have problems with the database, and are also running a desktop search program called "Copernic," try disabling it while you're running Thingamablog. (One user has reported this as the cause of the problem. YMMV)

How do I change the template theme after creating a blog?

If you're running Thingamablog 1.1, simply open the "Configure Weblog" dialog box, and select the "Templates" option. On this pane you'll be able to preview and install different template sets. Please note that, changing templates will replace your current set. Therefore, it's probably a good idea to back up your current template set. You can do this by right clicking on your blog and selecting the "Export Templates" menu option.

For users running the older Thingamablog 1.0.x, right click on the "Web Files" folder for your blog and select "Import Files." Next, browse to the folder where you installed Thingamablog. (Typically C:\Program Files\Thingamablog1, or /opt/thingamablog-1.x). Enter the "templates/<theme_you_want> directory and select the file "styles-site.css" along with any image files that may be in the folder. Finally, click the "Open" button on the file chooser and "yes" if you're asked to overwrite.

How can I spell check my native language?

Due to file size concerns, Thingamablog ships with an English dictionary only. However, because it uses OpenOffice spell checker dictionaries, you can download a dictionary for whichever language you need.

First, go to the OpenOffice dictionary page and download the dictionary zip file appropriate for your language. Then simply go to Configure/Options and select your dictionary from the drop-down list.

The spell checker should now be able to spell check your language.

Why does Thingamablog republish my entire blog every so often?

Thingamablog does this to keep the pages of your blog up to date after a rebuild. Whenever you post a single entry, Thingamablog only publishes the pages that have changed. However, whenever a new archive page needs to be created, all of the pages of the blog need to be regenerated to reflect the added archive. Therefore, the entire blog gets republished.

Additionally, changing options in the Blog Properties dialog causes the blog to be rebuilt.

How can I post to the same weblog from two different locations?

Thingamablog includes a "post from email" feature. Simply configure your blog to check an email account and set up the authors whom you want to email in their posts. When Thingamablog finds new email from the specified authors, it will automatically import and publish their posts.

Another possibility is creating your database folder on a removable storage device such as a USB thumb drive or SD card and carry your blog around with you.

Where can I find more services to ping?

There are several services out there. Take a look at this Pinging service run-down, for a list of the most popular ones.

I found a bug, where do I report it?

Soon there will be bug tracking software on this site. Until then, please send bug reports here.

Be sure to include the following information…

  • Your Operating System
  • The version of Java that you’re using
  • Any errors you received.

Most importantly, please try and be as specific and relevant as possible. Take the time to isolate what action is triggering the bug, and provide detailed steps which enable the developer to reproduce it.

How can I translate Thingamablog to my native language?

Translating the Thingamablog GUI is fairly easy and it would be great to cover as many languages as possible. If you have some time to spare and would like to help translate Thingamablog, please see the Translation HowTo to get started.