This is similar to the last post in this forum. I want to know exactly how ikiwiki remembers the times associated with pages, especially when using it for blogging, so I know whether I can trust it or not. From that last thread, I think what ikiwiki does is this:

  • The created time of a file is when that file was first committed into the versioning repository (in my case git)

    If --getctime it used, yes. In normal operation, when new files are added, ikiwiki sets the creation time to the ctime of the file on disk, rather than bothering to ask the VCS. --Joey

  • The modified time of a file is what that file was last updated in the repository

    Almost right, the modified time is actually taken from the modification time of the file in disk. --Joey

And with a blog, by default, the posts are ordered by creation time, although an option can order them by modified time.

Okay. So this should mean that the times are safe if, for example, I delete my working copy and then clone another one from the bare git repository, or otherwise mess up the creation times and mtimes stored as file metadata on the filesystem.

Do I have it right?

Some VCS, like git, set the file mtimes to the current time when making a new checkout, so they will be lost if you do that. The creation times can be retrived using the --getctime option. --Joey

Thanks for the clarification. I ran some tests of my own to make sure I understand it right, and I'm satisfied that the order of posts in my blog can be retrieved from the VCS using the --getctime option, at least if I choose to order my posts by creation time rather than modification time. But I now know that I can't rely on page modification times in ikiwiki as these can be lost permanently.

Update: It's now renamed to --gettime, and pulls both the creation and modification times. Also, per auto getctime on fresh build, this is now done automatically the first time ikiwiki builds a srcdir. So, no need to worry about this any more! --Joey

I would suggest that there should at least be a --getmtime option like you describe, and perhaps that --getctime and --getmtime be on by default. In my opinion the creation times and modification times of pages in ikiwiki are part of the user's content and are important to protect, because the user may be relying on them, especially if they use blogging or lists of recently modified pages, etc. Right now the modification times can be lost permanently.

Is there a typo in the description of --getctime in the man page?

--getctime Pull last changed time for each new page out of the revision control system. This rarely used option provides a way to get the real creation times of items in weblogs, such as when buildā€ ing a wiki from a new Subversion checkout. It is unoptimised and quite slow. It is best used with --rebuild, to force ikiwiki to get the ctime for all pages.

Surely it is not the last changed time but the first seen time of each page that is pulled out of the VCS? If the aim is to get the real creation times of items in weblogs, then the last times that the items were changed in the VCS is not going to help. -- seanh

Typo, fixed. --Joey

If you want to preserve the date of a page, the best way to do it is to use meta date="foo". This will survive checkouts, VCS migrations, etc. -- Jon

That's a good tip Jon. That would also survive renaming a page by renaming its mdwn file, which would normally lose the times also. (And in that case I think both times are irretrievable, even by --getctime). I might start using a simple script to make blog posts that creates a file for me, puts today's date in the file as a meta, and opens the file in my editor. -- seanh

I use a script that does that and also sets up templates and tags for a new item:

set -u
set -e

if [ $# -ne 1 ]; then
    echo usage: $0 pagename >&2
    exit 1


if [ -e "$pagename" ]; then
    echo error: "$pagename" exists >&2
        exit 1

echo '[[!template  id=draft]]' >> "$pagename"
echo "[[!meta  date=\"$date\"]]" >> "$pagename"
echo "[[!tag  draft]]" >> "$pagename"
git add "$pagename"
$EDITOR "$pagename"

-- Jon

A quick workaround for me to get modification times right is the following little zsh script, which unfortunately only works for git:

Elided; no longer needed since --gettime does that, and much faster! --Joey

--David Riebenbauer