Blacklight plugin and demo app

01 Feb 2009

The big news for Blacklight in the past month has been Matt Mitchell’s excellent Blacklight plugin that allows clean separation between site specific changes and the open source project code.

A problem faced by many open source applications whose users also want to customize them is that local code gets out of sync with the open source project code and upgrades become a headache. I think we’re well on the way to avoiding that problem for Blacklight. Using the Rails Engines plugin, Blacklight is now available as a generic plugin application that offers most of the functionality of the UVA Blacklight instance. When you put this plugin into an empty rails application, you can overload behaviors as well as the look and feel for your local installation, while keeping the open source project code separate. This will make it easy to upgrade the core functionality when new releases come out. With the engines plugin structure, local changes aren’t entangled with the public project, so you won’t need to comb through the project to find your localized code.

We’re still in the process of writing documentation that will show people how to create their own look and feel for Blacklight, but if you’re interested in trying Blacklight you might want to start with a demo application. You can see what this will look like after installation here, and you can read installation instructions here. I hope you’ll try it and give us some feedback about the application and the installation process.