January 7, 2018blogging go ruby jekyll solution medium wordpress ghost
In my 2018 intentions, there is “start a blog”.
One of the first reasons because I put off this aim till now was finding the best blogging system. There are a lot of blogging solution, but I was looking for something comfortable to me.
Medium, Wordpress, Ghost et similia
In my job, I had to try several blogging solutions, but no one made me happy. Wordpress, Medium, Ghost are lovely, and they work great for my clients and their projects, but I do not feel right for me.
Medium is super-easy for people that want just write – no technicalities please! – or for people that procrastinate writing – techy stuff are an excuse to don’t do the job. In counterpart, you give for free your contents to a private company that will use to make money without sharing it with you, and you do not control user engagement (little marketing advantage for you).
Wordpress is a pervasive solution, so people are well-disposed towards it, you find a lot of support online, and you can self-host the blog. A self-hosted solution offers the opportunity to optimize user engagement and build a complex-as-you-want digital marketing strategy. The unlucky side of Wordpress is that bored hackers tend to attack it regularly, so you (or your IT staff) will need a non-negligible effort to keep it updated and secure.
Ghost is one of my preferred alternative to Wordpress because the community has a clear ambition, and the software is modern, optimized and promising. I tried to push it to my customers, but the Wordpress fame and his environment richness make difficult for them to trust a different solution.
All these options are suitable for my blogging project, also. Indeed I started to use all of them in the past without lucky. After some posts, I quit. Yes, a big part of the motivation was that I did not commit myself to write seriously. But also I think that all these systems do not represent myself.
My way is be a ‘90s dev
My way is not to install a fancy CMS with a text editor on steroids or a thousand of mobile apps to write 300 words with an image. I prefer Textmate to RubyMine, Emacs to Visual Studio. If you understand why you know what I mean: just coding HTML, as in the ‘90s.
Obviously, I’m too lazy for thinking seriously to write each page of my blog by hand: indeed, a manual approach has no sense. So I started to investigate about static website generators: a good compromise between not writing silly code and keep the feeling with my old-style text editor.
The first options I evaluated are Jekyll and Octopress because based on Ruby, one of my preferred language. They are super! The first one is more generalistic than the second one, and with a small effort you can generate and maintain big websites or automatize landing page generations – if you are a nerdy marketing guy.
Often people blame static generator because you cannot publish your content on the fly.
That’s not so true today: you can publish Jekyll website on GitLab or GitHub Pages just by a
git push. It means you can do this from your laptop but also from your mobile device by apps like Coda or straight on-line by services like Prose.
Yes, you have to be a code guy to do this, but we are proud to be this kind of person, bro.
In my case, I do not love writing on the phone, and generally, I am an old school man: I write my wander notes on paper. For extemporal thoughts, I’ve my twitter, certainly. So publishing by walking on the street is not a feature I need.
The final choice
Finally, I decided: my blogging environment will be static generator based. Also, this solution allows me to start a progressive migration of my old website to the new technology without doing all the stuff in one shot. For example, I kept my contact form system: I’m very fond of my Voigt-Kampff replicant detection test.
I’d like to use this personal project to learn something new, so I choose to use Hugo instead of Jekyll. Hugo is an HTML generator written in Go. I’m exploring Go language and start using it gradually in a small project seems to be an opportunity.
I do not love to reinvent the wheel, so I used the inheritance mechanism of Hugo to achieve a minimal appearance by starting from an existent theme. What I downloaded is Minimal, a very clean free theme. I changed typography to increase readability by mimic hints showed in the Nick Babich’s post 10 tips on typography in web design.
There is more to do, I know. I’ll do but… it’s blogging time, now!
FYI, I leave you with a video for a quick overview of Hugo.