Static, not dynamic

I've decided to move the back-end of my blog away from WordPress to a Ruby-based system called Jekyll. The interesting part about Jekyll is that nothing is dynamic; there are no Ruby scripts running on the server. Everything instead is generated locally as a set of static files which I sync to my hosting using the venerable rsync. If everything's gone to plan you shouldn't see any interruption, and only minor cosmetic changes.

Why bother? I have no problems with WordPress, I think it's a fantastic system and one of the shining examples of a well-designed usable open source application.

It's just overkill for my use case.

This is a personal blog, updated relatively infrequently. Why have a full-blown PHP framework and a MySQL backend? I don't need all of that complexity sitting between the words I write and the final rendered format. For a while now I've been curious about this class of blogs, and seeing as removing complexity is one of my mantras for this year it seemed like a good project to tackle.

Another reason is that my blog is now a directory of text files annotated in Markdown stored on my laptop. These files are synced into Dropbox and backed up with Time Machine, meaning I have both on-site and off-site backups for free. I've never had a backup of this blog before, and the times I tried to set up automatic backups with WordPress I never got anywhere productive.

However, in order to keep having comments enabled I've had to migrate and integrate with Disqus. The migration from WordPress was painless, but it's a third-party system that I'm forced to use where I don't control the data. Next on my to do list is to automatically extract and save the comments from Disqus into my local repository. It's not all bad though -- the ability for my readers to authenticate via Facebook Connect and OpenID is pretty cool, as is the ability to track responses to my articles via Twitter.

The final reason is that this system brings me a lot closer to the final generated HTML. For the time being I've simply ported my WordPress theme into the Liquid templating mechanism that Jekyll uses without modifying the CSS. I hope to do a visual redesign soon.

Overall though I'm pleased with how the migration has turned out. I'm excited about the simplicity this new system offers, and hopefully the reduced friction between my text editor and a published product will result in more output this year.

Why not give blogging like a hacker a go as well?

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