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Choosing A Blogging Platform

07 Jan 2014

This is the third blog I’ve started, my earlier blogs (at Bloggerand Tumblr) have been all but abandoned.

Blogger, I found to be too limited; the pre-built themes didn’t allow a lot of customization, and try as I might, I couldn’t find one that I liked. Tumblr is far more design conscious, has some great themes, but editing them can be a pain. Besides, it didn’t strike me as a place for longform or text-based posts (which is what I’m looking for), so that ended quickly.

As someone who puts a great deal of thought into my software choices, I started looking around for some alternatives, and ended up trying Jekyll Bootstrap, Octopress and finally plain-vanilla Jekyll, which is what I’ve settled on.

Though both Bootstrap and Octopress are meant to simplify the process of setting up a Jekyll blog, they add too much fluff to the folder structure, and end up complicating the process significantly. Installing themes on Bootstrap is difficult, and Octopress required me to have access to a full development environment just to add a new post.

I decided to use plain-vanilla Jekyll, and desisted from using any fancy themes, choosing instead to tweak the default theme to my liking. You can probably tell the theme is “custom” by taking a look at the source for this page - the CSS is really messy with lots of redundant tags. I’m afraid to clean it up now, fearing the site will probably break if I change anything. (Thank god it’s versioned!)

This setup allows me full access to the site on a local Git repository on my Linux machine, and posting via through a browser if I’m on any other machine. (They also allow posting via mobile, but I haven’t tried that out yet.) Github Pages is an excellent (and free!) web host for static sites, so hosting won’t be a problem.

If you’re interested in setting up a similar blog yourself, head over to the Jekyll Documentation and install the required packages, it shouldn’t take you more than a few minutes to be up and running. Feel free to drop me an email if you run into any trouble.

I want to write more starting this year, so settings up this blog was the first step! Since I’m horrible at coming up with clever names, this blog won’t have a name.

Happy New Year!