Merry Christmas, 2018!
Ho ho ho!
Merry Christmas and/or Happy Holidays, you lovely folks
Time to break the silence before heading back to family activities and bring you some news on what's going on.
Finally, the die is cast! no more WordPress as the landing page for vigem.org
Well, not quite yet, by the time reading you might still see it serving but the major workload is done; the posts have been migrated over to the archive section of the forums.
I've even gone through the troubles of implementing transparent link redirection so the old links floating around the net will continue to work! Then once the new and hopefully shiny landing page for vigem.org is finished I can flip the switch without causing major 404s
I've decided to call the news and announcement section of the forums my new home for spouting out stuff nobody cares about
As with every decision of this magnitude there's both positive and negative changes. For me the advantages in switching to NodeBB are:
- Content in pure Markdown
- Writing a new topic in a WYSIWYM fashion (What You See Is What You Mean) in contrast to the WordPress WYSIWYG approach (What You See Is What You Get) reduces the amount I need to switch between mouse and keyboard utilizing the toolbar to add certain elements. Now I can simple write along besides a nice preview on the right side. It also forces the author to stick to some basic elements and refrain from using too much eye-candy that's offered by WP and the countless syntax plugins.
- Pasting images directly into the editor auto-uploads it. I don't need the capabilities of the media manager included in WP, if my post requires some images I wanna just drag them in and be done with it.
- Needles to say, Markdown clearly wins when compared to content riddled with HTML tags to get the formatting right.
- No separate blogging engine
- One service less to maintain and keep updated is a nice side-effect I must admit
- Far less garbage quality plugins
- Tightly coupled to community exchange capabilities
- The blog was always meant to be free of comments since the built-in commenting system of WP is still garbage and there are far too many 3rd party plugins that all require maintenance and are prone to breaking horribly after updates.
Some downsides are worth noticing as well of course:
- No more auto-posts to Twitter
- This is minor and probably achievable through more research and plugins but I think I'll just let this connection die and continue to manually feed Twitter with my shenanigans
- Different community and ecosystem
- I have to admit that using WordPress for over ten years now has granted me some insight into it and I was able to tweak it here and there on the level of PHP if necessary. With Node.js it's a different story, but then at the same time I don't plan on heavily customizing it.
As you can see the gap isn't that huge as I initially thought. Switching over to NodeBB wasn't the obvious choice though, I've spent quite some time evaluating alternatives which I wanna briefly mention.
One of the must-have requirements I had was the ability to self-host, that is not being forced to switch to a cloud/service-based model. While I admit that managed or cloud-hosted solutions have their obvious upsides I want to keep in control of the content I put up there and learn how to set it up and maintain it at the same time.
If you search for WordPress alternatives you'll quickly stumble upon Ghost:
Ghost is a fully open source, adaptable platform for building and running a modern online publication. We power blogs, magazines and journalists from Zappos to Sky News.
What quickly killed it for me was the poor support for migrating from other platforms, like WordPress. Oh sure, the official docs offer hints and tools for migration but at the time of writing they were all either wrong, outdated or had some other unresolved flaws. I even spent quite a few hours trying to write my own WordPress to Ghost migration tool but not even the API doc is up to date so I wasn't able to get even a single post transferred via automation so that died at this point.
If you're starting from scratch, give it a go I'd say!
We now enter the realms of static content generators rather than traditional blogging engines. Meet Jekyll, a popular static site generator also supported by giants like GitHub. Half way through my evaluation I stumbled upon yet another solution similar to Jekyll called Hugo so let's jump there right away
I've never dealt with static site generators before but Hugo offered a nice quick start documentation and - lo and behold - a (somewhat) working export plugin for WordPress so I gave it a shot. To be honest, it looked quite promising. The biggest downside (although considered an advantage by others) was the lack of a built-in editor (web based, not the CLI) to quickly spin up new posts. Handling media like image uploads isn't very intuitive because you're expected to simply add static content in a predefined folder structure and push it to your web server. A very developer-friendly approach but again, if publishing feels like work I'll be less tempted to do so I was able to find some helper tools like an extension for Visual Studio Code but again: didn't work and that's just annoying so it went down the bin as well.
Another breakthrough has happened within the realms of the development dungeon: fellow hacker @megadrago88 has dumped quite a lot of hours into the dreadful defiance of getting the Force Feedback interface we'd like to embrace in upcoming FireShock drivers to work!
Now I know without much context this news is more confusing than worthy of celebration for the usual audience but I promise that posts bringing clarification will follow
All the and thanks from me as well to our small but amazing community and happy holidays!
As always: stay tuned!
- Content in pure Markdown