This blog used to run on WordPress but now runs on Habari which is a blogging platform currently being developed by a set of very talented people.

Undoubtedly, the number of developers and users running Habari is far fewer than the massive community using WordPress. Similarly, the number of available themes and plugins available for Habari is relatively small (albeit growing daily) and dwarfed by the vast, almost bewildering wealth of add-ons and the extensive range of themes available for Wordpress.

However, this isn’t a bad thing because it forces anyone contemplating a migration to Habari to think carefully about the core plugins that are truly essential to adminster your blog and valuable for your readers.

One such plugin (for me) was an equivalent of the Wordpress sitemaps plugin. Rick Cockrum published a excellent summary of why an automatically generated sitemap is useful.

When I first configured and activated the sitemap plugin for Habari, nothing happened. No sitemap file was generated. Initially, I thought that maybe the sitemap was only generated after a post was published. So I published a new post. Still nothing happened..

I posted a enquiry on the Habari users mailing list. In an effort to ‘help’ the Habari community, I even opened a ticket (bug request).

Then, I made an amazing discovery when an anonymous author was forced to waste some of his valuable time to close my ‘bug report’:

The plugin is not intended to generate a file, rather to serve the sitemap xml document when requested.

So, it transpires that the Habari sitemaps plugin doesn’t actually generate a file. The sitemap is simply a URL which is dynamically built, on request.

Now I believe this is a much neater solution. No need for the user to specify where the file should be placed. Less work for the plugin to do. Much cleaner. Much simpler. Credit to the author, Andrew da Silva.

The lesson I learned was that just because something has always been done that way doesn’t necessarily mean it can only be done that way.

P.S. If you’re worried about the performance impact of needlessly rebuilding a sitemap, on the fly for 234,432 entries, don’t worry - some clever individual has already implemented a cache for the sitemap data.