Daily Confession/Westminster is Open Source

December 31, 2018

Greetings in the Lord!

Since a year is 52 weeks plus an extra day, Dec 31 is always an off-day for Daily Confession, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to make a public service announcement, or a peek behind the scenes for anyone who is interested in the technical details (for anyone who just wants a daily devotional today, there’s still the year’s last reading from Dr Pipa’s reading schedule for Daily Westminster)

Originally (back in 2008) this capability was hacked together with a pile of Perl scripts that parsed the text and scripture links of the Westminster and Three Forms artifacts into a  years’ worth of posts (two years, if you count Daily Westminster separately).  Then more Perl was written to rotate the posts into an annual schedule (because each year starts on a different day of the week). Finally, more Perl was written to pre-post that year’s worth of content to the two blogs, and then I could just sit back and let wordpress.com do all the work: automatically disseminating all the posts on their pre-set publish dates. The amount of work going forward was about an hour a year to create a new rotation schedule, and upload all of the new year’s posts, and 5 minutes here or there as typos were discovered and reported to me (thanks to you all, I haven’t heard about a typo for many years now!)

Well after a couple years of that, WordPress changed a policy that limited the number of pre-posts. So the Perl was tweaked a bit to upload just a month at a time, which is what I’ve been doing ever since. After that got streamlined, it was down to about 5min per month, and still about an hour to prepare for each new year. As some might recall, there were not a few months where I forgot to upload posts! I thank those of you who emailed to graciously remind me to get on the ball. A system of calendar reminders for myself seems to have eliminated that problem.

In 2018, when I updated the home computers from Ubuntu 16.04 to 18.04, I found I could no longer get Perl set up with the modules that enabled connecting to WordPress to upload the posts. Since I’ve been transitioning to Python lately, I rewrote the monthly uploading script in Python. It didn’t take long, because I was still able to use the same repository of content. The Python rewrite improved things so the annual hour of data preparation is no longer necessary, and I’m down to just the 5min/month (and the majority of that is trying to remember my password, because I now use it so rarely!)

In addition to Python, 2018 has seen me start to use GitHub for my personal coding projects, which brings me to the real purpose of this post.

The capability (new Python as well as all the old Perl) and data (all 364+365 pre-formatted posts) to upload Daily Confession/Westminster posts month by month, is now hosted as an open source project on GitHub. One thing that this means is that, should the Lord see fit for me to get run over by a bus, other techies would have all they need to keep the service going. Thankfully, I am ‘young’ and healthy, so I look forward to many years of continuing to run this myself.

Another thing this means though, is that if anybody else wants to set up a ‘rival’ service, they are free to do so, and I would welcome it (and have once before!) Perhaps one or more churches would like to publish these daily readings from their own church website. Or perhaps somebody feels like registering a domain rather than using free blogs at wordpress.com. Perhaps somebody has ideas for improving the code. Hosting the project on GitHub facilitates all of these possibilities.

Normally, Daily Confession/Westminster has comments disabled (I only aim to provide readings, there are plenty of other venues out there for discussion), but this post will have comments on, in case anybody wants to easily contact me to discuss technical possibilities.

Thanks for all your years of faithful readership! I pray that these best efforts of our fathers in the faith will help in your study of God’s word.

2 Responses to “Daily Confession/Westminster is Open Source”

  1. Robert Tuttle Says:

    I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but I mean it sincerely — thank you so very much for the daily confession. I truly do appreciate it, and you for doing it. I pray that God will bless you, and continue to bless all of us through you.

    • RubeRad Says:

      You’re welcome, and I’m truly glad to provide the service. People that I talk to seem to have the impression that I’m personally/manually sending these out every single day (because that’s how they are experienced), but one reason I wanted to do this post today was to highlight that, by now, it’s well automated and a very minimal effort on my part

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