Another Octopress Blog

September 9, 2012

I made the transition from WordPress to Octopress. I’d been a WordPress user since sometime in 2003, when I started my 1128 blog. WordPress was incredible: the installation was remarkably painless and the features (admin interface, layouts, etc.) were top notch as well. Over the years WordPress has improved quite a bit, too. But WordPress has also grown somewhat notorious for performance issues (under heavy load, anyway), and there were occasional security problems as well.

Perhaps due to these challenges, static site generators like Octopress are becoming more popular. The advantage is that the code runs on your local machine and generates a bunch of HTML files. Then you upload (rsync, in my case) them. This makes your site faster – it doesn’t have to converse with a database server to get the posts – and a lot more secure. There’s no PHP script running on the server with bugs waiting to be compromised. The hosting account itself is still hackable, of course, but there’s only so much we can do about that.

So when my friend Robert emailed a couple months ago to let me know that my blog had some link spam in the footer (coded so that it didn’t when I visited the site), I decided it was time to say goodbye to WordPress. I blog rarely enough that it needs to be frictionless, and though it was interesting to track down where the spam was being injected, I doubted it would be as interesting in future occurrences. It was time to get serious about Octopress.

As an aside, I did spent some time trying out Hyde, because Python is higher on my list of preferred languages than Ruby (important if I ever wanted to tinker with the code) but Hyde is not (yet?) as much of an off-the-shelf blogging platform as Octopress is. Octopress won.

For the most part the switch was easy; I used Matt Gemmell’s post as a reference. Initially there were no comments, as it is A) fashionable these days and B) it’s a static site. However, this weekend I opted to setup Disqus, which is akin to off-shoring your comments.

I do miss WordPress to a certain degree. It was much easier to sign into the admin interface and compose a new post, write a little, and decide to save it as a draft (and forget about it). With Octopress it’s a more manual process.

  • rake new_post['Some Title']
  • Fire up TextMate 2 and open the .markdown file.
  • Write.
  • Don’t finish post for various reasons. Go to the Octopress docs to remind myself how to set a post as a draft (note to my future self: published: false).
  • rake preview / rake generate / rake deploy

The downside of this is that if you never finish a post (or decide not to post it) and never set it to be a draft, when you come around later and actually post something you could easily inadvertently post your not-intended-for-publication post. So some care is required. For now I’ve modified the Rakefile to include the published: false line in the new_post template.

You served well, WordPress, and you will be missed. My thanks to the many developers who made WordPress great.