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Software Review:Listgarden


Wed 25 Mar 2009


This is the script for a podcast on, and substantial matches the content in the audio file. This is part of the ``Lightweight Application'' series, an OS agnostic open contributor mini series.

Listgarden is a Perl script that greatly simplifies offline web page authoring and can generate RSS feeds.

1 Introduction

Today I am going to talk about the software ``Listgarden.'' This package was mentioned on Episode 44, but I feel it deserves it's own episode.

2 What is it?

Listgarden is a Perl script, that can do many things, but seems to be the only program I can find that can be used to generate both a web page and a matching RSS feed on a computer that is offline from the interweb.

2.1 Why is offline important

The reason I find this offline functionality is that it matches my needs. I like to generate my site offline, it gives me the ability to work on my website when I am at odd locations on my laptop without having to log on to the Interweb. I have tried two of the ``web 2.0'' style applications, that ran exclusively on my web page, and found it unsatisfactory for a variety of reasons (two of which are needing to be on-line as well spam management.) My needs for simple web pages will not match the needs of everybody, but I need something that can generate quick and easy web pages with RSS.

2.2 For newbies, what is RSS

RSS stands for ``Really Simple Syndication'' and is a way of abstracting the content away from the websites presentation. Once the content and the web page are separate, you can use a variety of software called ``feed readers'' to access the content of several websites, often simultaneously. One of my favorites is having an RSS reader in my email client. I no longer have to check web pages to see if anything new is up, I just have my email program check web pages with RSS feeds, and my email program tells me what has changed. Some web pages will syndicate content, and so you can have your web page's ``headlines'' included in another web page this way.

3 How is Listgarden installed

First, install Perl, second, download the tar and decompress, third, mark the script as executable. Done, that's it. BTW, Windows and Mac installers are available

4 How do I use it

Execute Listgarden, either from an x-term or from a menu system. When run, it will say something like ``to access UI, visit http:''.

Listgarden operates uses your normal we browser as it's user interface.

From there, there will be a bunch of easy to understand buttons for different functions. I got started without even reading the manual.

I followed the steps to ``create a list.'' Modified my settings to my likings, defined several items, customized it, and checked the output with another tab in my web browser. It's a real cinch, and if I explain it any more I will just make it look more complicated than it is.

Try it, you can always delete the files if you don't like it. When you get it to your liking, you can copy the HTML and RSS.XML files to a server and your done. After that, updating your site is a matter of adding a new item, and publishing it.

5 Other Features

While I like to use Listgarden my way, I should mention briefly all the features so you can see if ``your way'' is in there.

Listgarden can be used, first off, to maintain any number of RSS feeds without HTML.

Listgarden seems to be designed so it won't force any function on you that you may not want. Even though it is one program, it acts like a very modular system.

Listgarden makes good, easy to understand, HTML. Reasonable defaults can make creation of a HTML blog an instant experience. You can then modify what you want as a header and a footer to your items, for a custom look. I managed to achieve an effect that simulated all the things I liked in my old Webpress system, but now I don't need Webpress any more.

Listgarden also has a backup system, I can't review the function as I have not yet tried it. Listgarden also can FTP your website and directly write your files there if you want it to

6 Addendum

I note that not all feed readers are created equally. However, they are a dime a dozen, it is the feed writers that are harder to come by.

While the feed reader for Claws email client is missing a few entries, the Firefox plug-in ``sage'' is getting everything over the generated RSS feed.