Long time readers know that I’ve wrestled with different CMS engines on this site. I started with WordPress, then switched to Expression Engine, and then back to WordPress.
Along the way I tried Text Pattern and even Posterous. Expression Engine and Text Pattern are just plain terrible and I wouldn’t recommend them. WordPress is a great entry level CMS and it’s great for non-technical people. In minutes you can have yourdomain.com/blog via your host or through wordpress.com. Posterous was also a favorite of mine. The ease of posting via email made me fall in love with it. Too bad they sold it to Twitter and Twitter killed it. Damn you Twitter!
Nowadays I use Jekyll. I discovered Jekyll from Ugly who uses it to run his hack.ly site on Amazon S3. Jekyll appealed to me because it’s a static website generator and hosting it on S3 was perfect. Now my site is scalable and static HTML files are no longer subject to PHP code injection attacks.
The one thing that I had to get used to with Jekyll is the bit of “hacking” I had to do to get it running on my linux box. I’m pretty much stuck running Jekyll on my linux VM but it’s not a hassle at all. I heard rumors that you can get it work on a Windows machine, but why bother?
What I like about using Jekyll is that I’m forced to write posts in Markdown. I never wrote in Markdown format before but now that I’m used to it, I love it. I love it because I can focus on writing and let the Jekyll program generate the look and feel of the post. It might not be as easy as the WordPress WYSWIG editor, but it just feels faster and cleaner.
Writing in Markdown
An added benefit is that Markdown is a near universal format. Many of the newer static generating CMS systems use this format. If I ever were to change CMS systems again, I just drop my Markdown files into a new folder and rengerate them! Viola! Interoperability at it’s finest.
Writing in Markdown has also made me aware of the fluff I’ve written in the past. There is a maintainable aspect to using Markdown with Jekyll and I would not recommend Jekyll if you post often. I try to make at least one post per week now and regenerating my Markdown files takes about 30 seconds. Imagine if you had 1,000′s of markdown files? It would take a while to regenerate your entire site!
If you’re just starting out with Blogging, I would suggest using WordPress or Blogspot. They’re easy to use and free. Jekyll and Hexo are free too but need more hands on work. If you like getting your hands dirty then I would seriously look at Hexo instead of Jekyll.
Finally, and above all, start writing in Markdown! You will be set free!
Update: A few days after I posted this article I discovered Blot.Im. Blot is a simple text, markdown, and html parser that let’s you drop files into a Dropbox folder. Once your Dropbox folder syncs it automatically makes a new post. It doesn’t do YAML but has YAML like features to set your Permalinks, Date, Title, and Tags. All themes are customizable and it costs $20/year. You can even customize your themes! If you’re looking for a text/markdown text processing blog, this is worth checking out.
I just started using it over at www.thomasott.me as an experiment and love the ease of use! I now use it for this blog!
Update 2: I’m back to WordPress, my current blogging platform of choice. Why? The creation of Gutenberg plugin has really solved a lot of my issues with WordPress. Although I really like Blot, it’s not scalable for my needs. Plus, WordPress makes it easy to share my posts!