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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair
Sat, 16 Nov 2013

Ghost is very basic. VERY BASIC

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.

For now, you won't find anywhere near the functionality available in WordPress, or my favorite blogging platform, Ode.

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.

As an armchair programmer, I get the feeling that Node.js and Javascript on the server in general are getting to be more important than ever, and for that reason I applaud Ghost.

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.