rmurphey Adventures in JavaScript

Switching to Octopress

25 Jul 2011 edit

I'm taking a stab at starting a new blog at rmurphey.com, powered by Octopress, which is a set of tools, themes, and other goodness around a static site generator (SSG) called jekyll. A couple of people have noticed the new site and wondered what I'm doing, so I thought I'd take a couple of minutes to explain.

My old blog at blog.rebeccamurphey.com is managed using Posterous. It used to be a self-hosted WordPress site, but self-hosted WordPress sites are so 2009. One too many attacks by hackers made it way more trouble than it seemed to be worth. Posterous made switching from a WordPress install pretty easy, so, I did that. All told, it took a few hours, and I was pretty happy.

For a few reasons, the old blog isn't going anywhere:

  • I ran into some trouble importing the old content into jekyll. I was tired and I didn't investigate the issues too much, so they're probably solveable, but ...
  • Some of the old content just isn't that good, and since time is a finite resource, I don't want to get too wrapped up in moving it over. Plus ...
  • Frighteningly or otherwise, some of my posts have become reference material on the internet. If I move them, I've got to deal with redirections, and I have a feeling that's not going to be an easy task with Posterous.

In hindsight, I should have switched directly from WordPress to an SSG. Despite my many complaints about Posterous -- misformatted posts, lack of comment hyperlinks, a sign-in requirement for commenting, and lots more -- in the end my decision to switch to a static site generator instead was more about having easy control over my content on my filesystem.

This article explains it well, but the bottom line, I think, is that static site generators are blogging tools for people who don't need all the bullshit that's been added to online tools in the interest of making them usable by people who don't know wtf they're doing. So, yes, to use an SSG, you have to know wtf you're doing, and for me that's a good thing: the tool gets out of my way and lets me focus on the writing.

As for Octopress, it seems pretty damn nifty -- the default theme looks gorgeous on my desktop and on my phone, and it seems they've taken care to put common customization points in a single sass file. All that aside, though, one of my favorite parts about it is that my content is truly my content. If Octopress pisses me off -- though I hope it won't! -- then I can simply take my markdown files and put them in some other SSG, upload the whole thing to my GitHub pages, and be done with it. Win all around.