Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder
Figuring Out Which Blogging Platform To Switch To
I'd like to pay someone to port my blog to a new platform, and create one for Changeset Consulting as well. So now I need to decide on the platform and the vendor.
I've used NewsBruiser for this blog for nearly twenty years. Leonard wrote it for himself, and I switched to it from Kuro5hin in October 2001. I have posted 4645 entries.
I like many of NewsBruiser's features. I like that it emits flat files so that a page load requires no database lookup, for instance. And there are things I am sentimental about; I love that it's in Python, and that my spouse wrote it. And if I really need a specific change then I can get personal help.
But there are some things I want (for this personal blog plus for my consulting site) that NewsBruiser does not provide, and it makes more sense for me to switch to something else instead of asking Leonard to do a huge load of updates and feature work that he doesn't personally need. And -- as Troy Hunt and Courtney Milan and Steve Klabnik and a zillion other programmer-bloggers eventually decided -- at some point, if my websites are important to me on a business level, then I should switch to using a platform that gives me stuff I need, even if it's less pleasingly homemade.
I assume that doing this will involve contracting with someone else to do the web design, customization, and import, because my personal site ought to be easier to read, because I'll probably be creating a Changeset Consulting blog separate from Cogito, Ergo Sumana, and because I am not particularly strong at web design and I should outsource this. And I assume that a lot of design and CSS stuff I'll work out with that vendor -- header and footer and navbar, responsive design for mobile, etc.
So, what do I need or want? I figured I'd finally write down this list that I've been accreting in my head over the past few years. (I will probably come back to this list to add things as I interact with other blogs and remember stuff.)
Nice to have
As I understand it, WordPress bestrides this market like a behemoth. The contenders I have seen people use recently: Ghost, WordPress, Jekyll, Hugo, Pelican, Write.as, Django, Flask, Drupal. I see Alternative To mentions some others. I wrote this entry mostly for myself, to think about what I need and want, rather than to seek advice. But I do welcome advice on platforms/tools. And I know multiple WordPress consultants, so I'd like recommendations for consultants and other vendors whom I could pay to help me switch to something that is not WordPress, maybe even paying them to implement upstream features in that alternative.
Update 5 Jan 2021: I found a contractor via MeFi Jobs and should have a revamped site up in a few months!
11 Aug 2020, 16:32 p.m.
11 Aug 2020, 17:14 p.m.
that delightful theme :)
I'm excited for this!
I published my blog website recently using Jekyll + GitHub Pages. I tried Hugo initially, but that didn't work well for me. I'm liking my mechanism so far. The theme I use (https://chirpy.cotes.info/) ticks almost all of your "Required" boxes, but fails at many "strongly desired" points.
This isn't advice, just a +1 for Jekyll from my end. :)
Just one small question, is light/dark mode toggle something you care about?
I'll keep my eye out for anything that will help you here!
11 Aug 2020, 17:39 p.m.
Pavithra, thank you for the comment, especially the first line. :-)
I personally don't need a dark mode toggle, but it may now be table stakes for professional websites. I see Ned Batchelder implemented it and pointed to a HOWTO mentioning that it can be an accessibility accommodation. So that makes me think that when I talk about with the contractor, I'll also want them to ensure the CSS knows how to appropriately respond to the user's settings regarding dark mode.
11 Aug 2020, 21:22 p.m.
my great love for static site generators (hugo) made me want to advocate for static site generator-y situations, so instead I went through your list and pulled out the requirements that I think static site generators meet the least well:
* Multiple vendors<br/>* Blog-wide text search<br/>* Comments by users<br/>* Web-based / WYSIWYG writing interface<br/>* radiates sheer<br/>* Ability to make a preview URL so I can share a draft entry with someone else for review
13 Aug 2020, 4:07 a.m.
I rather reckon that separating the CMS from the publishing layer could help with the Web-based/WYSIWYG requirement.
I'm thinking of that python-based system that NPR was, the last time I checked, using to publish stories on npr.com. They had an access controlled app for writing/editing which cranked out static pages with JS for enhancements only into a S3 bucket for publishing.
So perhaps a locked down open source CMS instance that only publishes markdown files into a source-controlled directory structure that 11ty/Pelican/Jekyll can publish?
This reminds me to play with write.as more.
One thing I like about most of the static publishing tools is they can handle, with configuration, non-blog directories of files as collections.
One nice to have I didn't see on your list: post by email without having to run one's own mail server.
14 Aug 2020, 0:25 a.m.
I rather reckon you'd appreciate Nikola for its flexibility and Python implementation, but as Julia points out, pure static site generators have their limitations.
It does offer integration with third-party comment systems. I think the way it handles drafts would fit your requirement as well.
For example, here is a post from earlier this year in which I make uncouth use of Python syntax. It's still a draft, so you won't find it linked from the site's other indexes. That delightful theme you see comes in part from that particular post being sourced from a Jupyter Notebook.
If I go with WordPress, I'll probably try to hire Flax Digital or Clockpunk Studios.