Picking Blog Software

Fri 18 May 2018 by Dr. Dirk Colbry

When I was at iCER we used confluence for our blogging software and when I did a (personal blog](//apprenticemaker.blogspot.com/) I used google blogger. On of the barriers for me getting back into blogging (besides my own personal hangups) is that I was never really satisified with either solution. I wanted to "own" my blog information and didn't really feel comfortable with advertisers making money directly from my content (this is it's own argument). Here are some criteria for what I was looking for:

  • Easy to edit/ add new content
  • Easily backed up to my own computer and ported to a different system.
  • Ability to modify and add my own tweaks/ features.
  • Uses markdown or some similar text based file format to make it easy to use linux commands
  • Comments
  • Tags
  • Usage statistics

After some digging and talking to people I decided that I wanted to try out a static website generation tool and the obvious one that seemed to fit my interests and criteria is Pelican and a git repository.

Unfortunately, Pelican was not as easy as I had hoped. On two different occasions over the last couple of years I have made a deliberate effort to build a new website using Pelican. It "worked" but there was some missing feature or bug that would get in my way actually making me adopt the format. I also think that my reluctance to post things makes it harder for me to get started.

In fact, as I write this blog post (in markdown) I do not actually have a blog to post it on. My hope is that having some posts already waiting "in the hopper" will make my use of the software easier.

With the help of one of my summer students, I am making an effort to try to come up with a useable version of a blog using Pelican. My feeling is that active open source projects are constantly evolving and therefore getting better. Maybe third time is a charm? If Pelican still does not work out I may need to explore a different platform.

In the end I would like a workflow that not only works for my blog but also for some of other projects that need websites. I also would like to try to make a kind of Pelican template repository that I can give to some of my peers and make it quick and easy for them to start their own website/blog.