A new year has come! And with the new year, the usual new proposals: be better person, do more exercise, blog more, …
More than two years without blogging. Lot of time. So let’s start with the last proposal.
But I also wanted to do a clean restart, and entirely reboot my blog. This is something I was thinking of during the last months, specially after Rego moved his blog to Jekyll. I really like how clean and simple it looks like.
I have (or better had) my blog hosted in a WordPress server. WordPress is a very popular and also, why not, very good system to create and manage website content and blogs. It’s entirely an online service, where you create your content, and it’s served to the world. And there are tons of plugins that practically allow to do whatever you need.
But to be honest, it seems too much cathedral for me. I just wanted something simpler, that serves the content I have, and nothing else. Specially, after reading lot of times about bugs and different security problems it has (fortunately, most of them fixed quickly). Nevertheless, I’m very lucky in this topic, because the WordPress server I was using is hosted by Igalia, and their sysadmins are awesome professional people that keep everything updated. But still, can’t avoid the feeling that there’s still a risk, and that implies spending time from our sysadmins to maintain it.
Besides that, there were other reasons that made me to consider a static blog system (again, these reasons are entirely for my personal case).
As said, too much big just to keep a simple blog. Using a static blog seems more suitable.
I’m a FLOSS person, and as such, I really like to know what’s going on under the hood. And in this case it is something I don’t really know. Yes, WordPress is a free software, and source code is available out there. What I mean is that I can’t go to the server and freely change things, because I’m not the sysadmin. If I want to use a modified version of a plugin, I can’t do it. Basically, I see it as a service like others in the cloud, that you just use and full stop. On the other hand, static blogging is different: you have the source code, that you can inspect or modify (like I did for this blog), and that runs in your own host. And once the final content is generated, can be served by any webserver. No need to install anything at all in the server.
I’m a developer person, and as such, I like the process of writing something in clear text, compile it, and get a final result I can use. Which is something that perfectly matches with the way of doing static blogging: you write your posts in clear text (usually, in MarkDown or reStructuredText), you run a generator which transforms the posts in HTML + CSS, and you get everything inside a directory. You only need to copy the generated content in the proper webserver. Nothing else.
A very important one for me, that I think triggered the change from WordPress: I really like Git. And really missed to have my posts under with Git. But now, as posts are just clear text files, I can easily handle them with Git: I can push, amend, branch, and even accept fixes through pull requests!
Probably there are more reasons that made me to switch from WordPress. But those above are enough.
So the next question was: which one? There are lot of different static site generators. Lot time ago I had done some shy attempts with Pelican first, and with Jekyll later. As Jekyll is the most popular one, I decided to go with it. It has lot of plugins that covers all my needs, and very big community. For sure it is not the fastest one, but I don’t mind spending some minutes if required to generate content. The good thing is that in the future I can move to a different generator if needed, and just use the same posts.
Once I decided to use Jekyll, a crucial question came up: which theme? Themes define how your content looks alike. For sure, I wanted something simple, like Rego’s blog, but not the same theme. I’m not a designer, so doing it myself from scratch was discarded. I could buy a theme from a professional designer, but I think it is too early to do that at this moment. Maybe in the future. Thus, I spent several days trying different free themes, checking how they look, until finding one that suited what I wanted: Mediator theme. I used it as a starting point, fixing some problems (most of those fixes were merged in the original theme), doing some modifications to adapt to my own wishes, and voilà! What you see here is the final result.
What’s next? Very likely, search for a way of allowing comments. This is not handled natively in Jekyll, but usually through third-party services, like Disqus or Discourse. I could use any of them, but again, I would be in the same situation as with WordPress.
So for now, I’ll leave a couple of links in Facebook and Google+ where people can leave comments.
Happy new year!
UPDATE (26/11/2017): comments are available again.