Simon Willison’s Weblog


More home improvements

7th January 2007

I’ve had an offline Christmas, not entirely through choice (broadband at my Dad’s new place in rural France isn’t working yet) but welcome. I did have my laptop with me, and I’m using Bazaar for version control so being offline isn’t a barrier to checking in code. I’ve just rolled out a bunch of new features that I put together over the past few days.

Comments watchlist

A long-running problem with weblogs is that if you post a comment somewhere it’s easy to lose track of that thread and miss any replies that other people might post. If you log in to this site with an OpenID you now have access to a watchlist. You can add any post on the site to your watchlist and follow new comments on one page. More importantly, you can subscribe to an atom feed of comments posted to items on your watchlist.

When you post a comment, the item you are commenting on is automatically added to your watchlist. This means you can subscribe to your watchlist feed and automatically follow threads that you have contributed to.

The downside is that you still have to subscribe to a feed just to follow comments on this site. If more sites adopted a similar feature it’s possible that something a bit less time consuming could emerge—after all, your OpenID is the same on every site you comment on so given the right standard it could be possible to automatically create a “global” watchlist for any site you have commented on.

New talks section

I’ve done quite a lot of public speaking over the past 18 months, and I’ve put together a new section with details of talks I’ve given and links to supporting material. The material is a bit thin at the moment but I hope to add more over the next few weeks.

Style changes

Comments now have pretty pseudo-bubbles around them (thanks for the help, Nat) with different coloured borders for comments posted by OpenID users (orange) or myself (purple). I’ve made some tweaks to the design elsewhere as well, the most obvious of which is the purple divider line between the two columns used on pages other than the homepage.

Colophon enhancements

I always enjoy reading the colophon in O’Reilly books, which is hidden away at the back and describes the typefaces and processes used to publish the book (and the characteristics of the animal on the front). I added a colophon to my about page a few weeks ago; I’ve updated it and added a feed of the last few changelog messages checked in to Bazaar.

Bazaar is written in Python, so I can pull data from it using the bzrlib module directly in my Django view:

# This import prevents later ImportErrors
from bzrlib.branch import BzrBranch
from bzrlib.bzrdir import BzrDir

repo =
revisions = repo.get_revisions(

I’m using similar code to append a revision number to my CSS and JavaScript links, busting the cache in stubborn browsers such as IE and Safari.