Mostly Harmless

A blog about science, art, coding, life,... mostly harmless stuff.

Why I changed my blogging platform

I recently changed my blogging platform (again), and basically started from scratch (again). This post is the short story of why this happened.

I started blogging around 2012 and, as almost everyone, I started with Wordpress. Coming from a CS background, I started from the very beginning with own server and my own domain. So I downloaded Wordpress, installed PHP5, MySQL and boilerplate, and started blogging. I installed a bunch of plugins, LaTeX support, quote of the day, widgets, themes, … Everything was beautiful at first, until the day I decided I wanted to blog while offline.

The first solution I came up with was replicating my Wordpress installation in my laptop, and write there. So I started looking for software to automatically synchronize two Wordpress instances. Found a few promising leads, but never really got my hands on anything satisfying enough. Then I thought about writing my own synchronization tool. Down the rabbit hole I went for a few weeks, until I decided it was time to stop. More urgent things kept me away from the project, and in the end, it died. And with it, so died my blogging routine, and my blog grew vines and faded away in solitude.

One day, when I was almost convinced that blogging just wasn’t for me, I met Ghost, and immediately fell in love with it. Many of the things I had start to hate about Wordpress where finally fixed: an embedded database, Markdown support, Disqus-powered comments, a beautiful interface, a very simple setup, and no PHP anywhere! I got captivated by the “is just a blogging platform” motto. Exactly as I wanted, everything was so nice, except for the offline blogging thing. I immediately started to concoct an idea: to write a Sublime plugin for downloading and uploading drafts, but the API was barely a promise, that hasn’t been fulfilled just yet. So, after a few more posts, my newly re-found blogging desire started to dim again.

Then I met Jekyll, and skies opened. The concept was so simple I just couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it before: a static blog-aware site generator. Everything was there! No database, pure Markdown, all CSS and JavaScript I can ever want, and blazingly fast load times (because it all static, in the end). The only thing left was that, well, I’m not really a fan of Ruby, you know. Just my thing, I’m not judging. So I googled for a few options, and hit Pelican, a Python alternative to Jekyll. I immediately installed it and started writing again.

The only downside is, I couldn’t easily import the comments from Disqus for the posts I ported. Maybe I will in the future, but for now, I can live with it. In any case, the comments will stay there forever.

As of now, I’m on a writing spree. Nothing can stop me, now that I can blog at home, at work, in the street, on vacations in an abandoned island. And no matter how good, no blogging interface can outsmart my super-powered Sublime editor, with all the zillion plugins it has. Goodbye days of no-blogging self-pity-ness. This is a brave new world!