Jekyll, fully baked?

Tom Preston-Werner: “On Sunday, October 19th, I sat down in my San Francisco apartment with a glass of apple cider and a clear mind. After a period of reflection, I had an idea. While I’m not specifically trained as an author of prose, I am trained as an author of code. What would happen if I approached blogging from a software development perspective? What would that look like?”

Tom is the co-founder of GitHub, so you know the guys has coding chops. Jekyll is a very cool, very minimal, publishing system. I did some reading last night and was pretty excited about his ideas, but where it goes off the rails for me is using git to store your posts. It’s so close to something I could build upon.

Watch out! It's a blog fly!I think it’s time to go create my own publishing system. Why? Because I can and I want to. No better reason than that. This is a great excuse to learn Ruby. I don’t believe I’ll need Rails, all I need is a system that can publish a file into a directory structure after generating a static HTML file from Markdown, or maybe raw HTML as the source, it doesn’t matter. Once I have that I can build a simple web UI for entering posts from any device and I’ll bolt on support for the MetaWeblog API so I can use the desktop tool I like; MarsEdit.

That’s all I really need. A couple of apps that live on the server, one that generates the weblog, and one that can receive MetaWeblog requests and run the thing that generates the weblog. That’s the 30,000 foot view, it’s only slightly more complex than that.

Will I ever get around to doing it? Probably not. This would make at least the third weblogging/publishing system I’ve dreamed up in the last 10 years of weblogging, but it’s also the easiest to implement. All three were going to be static publishing systems. That’s still something I obsess about, dynamic just doesn’t matter to me.

Well what about widgets and comments? Good question. I have an answer. I don’t care about widgets that add dynamic content. I have a very small set of requirements. Look at this weblog today. What dynamic content do I have? Yep, my last tweet is displayed, what else? Nothing! That’s the beauty of it. As for comments I could use Disqus. Problem solved.

I want to create a system anyone could install on their own servers and use. created Second Crack to fill his weblogging needs but it’s a bit too hackerish for me, unless he’s taken it to the next level recently? I don’t know, but like Marco I want something just complex enough to fill my needs. I’d also like it to be simple enough to install and use that others could enjoy it without being developer minded.

It’s nice to write it down, but I doubt I’ll ever have time to develop it.

2 Replies to “Jekyll, fully baked?”

  1. Why is the use of Git a deal breaker? Git is a great VCS. Seems like a great way to maintain text files.

  2. Bob,

    You’re absolutely right. I cannot deny, nor will I argue, that Git is a great version control system. But it’s a version control system. I don’t need that, nor do most people writing for a weblog. If I wanted a version history of, or a record of edits, then it would be a fantastic choice.

    Simple markup files transformed to HTML will do the trick for me without the extra step of creating and using a git repo.

    I think it was easy for him to make use of Git. It’s something he’s very familiar with. I think a simple directory of markup files will do just fine.

    It’s just a preference. If you start using Jekyll please write about it. It may convince me to use it. I was dead set against dynamic publishing and switched to WordPress, which is really great.

    Marco Arment talked a bit about Second Crack on Build and Analyze and he had some interesting ideas as well but they just didn’t fit with my idea of and ideal system for me.

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