I'm always looking at new blogging systems, and here are a few links about systems written in Ruby:
You might already know about Jekyll and its close cousin Octopress, (I do), but this is the first I've heard about Middleman, which is billed as a general static-site generator written in Ruby that can be configured to produce a blog.
I dumped the links above with little context because I waiting to explore where they lead, as I hope you will, too.
For a very deep dive into blogging systems, listen to 032 - Blogging Platforms with Bob VanderClay. The blog post itself is valuable because there are dozens of links to just about everything they talk about. You can also go directly to the audio.
Here is the description of the show:
This week Gabe and Erik geek out about blogging platforms with Bob VanderClay. They discuss Blogging-as-a-Service (BaaS) vs. self-hosted blogging, then explore the advantages and disadvantages of static, dynamic, and hybrid blogging engines. Along the way, they touch upon a number of related topics including templating languages, commenting, writing tools, hosting providers, and backups.
So I'm working on a blog that I moved from Movable Type to WordPress in early 2012 but haven't touched since.
There were about 8,000 spam comments that weren't marked by the system as spam from 2009-11.
That's a lot of spam, and I remember now how hard it was to keep up with at the time.
That's great news since Markdown will really help those of us who use WordPress get posts formatted that much more quickly. I hate using the formatting buttons that come with WordPress, and Markdown beats hand-coding HTML any day.
(Note: This is an Ode blog, and it uses Markdown.)
Now all we need is Markdown in self-hosted WordPress.org. Then we'll be cooking with gas. The thread that announced Markdown for .com sites says it will be eventually be part of Jetpack for .org installations.
Until then, WordPress people remind that there are many Markdown plugins available.
For one reason or another, I've been thinking about Movable Type. I went to both of the web sites associated with the blogging software -- movabletype.org and movabletype.com and found no mention of the formerly "free," open-source Movable Type software I used for so many years.
Instead, MT 6 is for up to five users and $1,195 for unlimited users. Ouch. There's quite a gap between ode.cgi and $1,195.
Nowhere on those "official" sites could I find a link to the ode.cgi versions of Movable Type (i.e. everything up to Version 5).
But if you want MT 4.x or 5.x, they are available.
And the software that swallowed Movable Type's user base whole is still available -- and still free.
Movable Type was always a great platform, and it still handles multiple blogs and multiple users better than WordPress in my opinion.
But you really need a full-time hacker on the job if you want to use Movable Type seriously. There never was enough of a community out there with plugins and themes to get you going.
I didn't expect the post-WordPress blogging system Ghost to ship with all of its promised features, but it's more basic than I thought it would be. (If you want to read this very entry on my Ghost blog, here it is.)
It's basically entries tagged with Markdown and presented on the page.
As far as I know there are no categories or tags (though I do see them on other Ghost sites), and none of the promised back-end stats. There is no easily-implemented provision for comments,
not even though you can hack in Disqus. Clearly this sort of thing needs to get easier if Ghost has any hope of going beyond the geeky contingent that champions such systems as OctoPress, Pelican and Nikola.
It looks like there is only one user (and one blog) per installation.
In short, while the code that is out now does use Node.js and does use a two-windowed Markdown-on-one-side, styled-text-on-the-other composition screen, and what you write in there appears on your life site in the form of blog entries, that's pretty much it.
So I give the Ghost team this: They have code out in the wild, and it does work. Now they have to build on it and start delivering the features promised on the main Ghost site.
I hope they get there.
And unless you, like me, use a Node.js-friendly service like OpenShift to host your Ghost (I'm sure the AWS Elastic Beanstalk would do just as well) or have access to (or can spin up) a Node-running server and care deeply about running your blog on Node.js as opposed to PHP or Perl (or Ruby or Python for that matter), I'm not yet ready to recommend Ghost just yet. (Note: Ghost's documentation tells of many other ways to run it.)
For me, Ode creator Rob Reed's "Ode means you know how it works" credo is keeping me firmly in the Ode camp. Sure Perl is "old." (Just like PHP, which powers WordPress and Drupal and probably most other Web services.) But Rob has put a lot of thought into the design and subsequent execution of Ode. I'd love to see the Ghost team follow his example and create a system maintainable and hackable by the average human. If you look at a Ghost composition window and Ode's EditEdit side-by-side, you'll find more alike than different.
But at the end of the day, there's more to any blogging/publishing system than the language used on the back end, and Ghost will have to sell itself with features and ease of use, not the tools used to bolt it together.
Later: The Ghost Forums are essential for getting the most out of Ghost.
The double-paned Markdown/HTML view looks a lot like Ode's EditEdit, right?
According to the Ghost blog, while the code is only going to Kickstarter supporters right now, there will be a public release in the weeks ahead.
Does the release announcement include the names of every one of those 6,000 people? I think it does.
He acknowledges that most people seem to be moving it the other way (from WordPress to Octopress), but he cites a few things that he couldn't get past in the Ruby-on-one-side, static-HTML-on-the-other world of Octopress:
Acknowledging that something isn't working for you and seeking something that does? Nothing wrong with that. And a whole lot right.
By the way, I love Markdown. And you can get it in WordPress