Yes, this is a blog post about blogging! In particular about the static CMS Jekyll.
Jekyll is an excellent blogging software which I have just discovered. To my shame, I should have come across it much earlier. It is what can be used on Github to create Github Pages. It’s great because it supports markup/down and various other syntax to write blog posts. So, I can use my favourite text editor (vim) to edit my blog posts. Before, I was using Wordpress, and while Wordpress is great for someone wanting WYSIWYG editing, Jekyll is for the technically minded or someone who is not afraid to use markdown or even markup (HTML).
Also, Jekyll is very user friendly. By user friendly I mean that it gives power to power users. You can do anything you like with it and it becomes a lot easier to write one’s theme. It was near to trivial for me to integrate my own PHP pages and I didn’t have to become an expert in writing extensions for Wordpress, Drupal or another more complicated CMS.
Jekyll generates static pages, which doesn’t only mean that your pages load lightning fast (as fast as your webserver can output them), but also that your website or blog can have static, custom content quite easily.
Another great thing is that it doesn’t have repeated content. You don’t have to repeat the header or anything else, the CMS will generate this for you.
It becomes easier to optimise your website for faster download and a prettier and more professional looking design. Of course, this is not for everyone, but for a web developer it becomes very easy to make a website which has a custom theme or CSS framework and designing the website becomes a lot easier.
You should definitely try out Jekyll if you are a (semi-) professional blogger or if you are not afraid to use a text editor. It can be Notepad. However, the biggest hurdle may be installing it. It took me a while to get everything working the way it is now, but it is well-worth the effort. I think it is still easier than setting up Wordpress with everything customised to your liking.
Wordpress and other blogs can be easily migrated to Jekyll through its plugins. Sure, you have to figure out some DB configuration and load the required dependencies, but migrating my blog was actually a fun task. I didn’t feel like I had to do anything that was mundane, except for changing the author on some posts, because I had used more than one user in Wordpress.
Jekyll is also very secure. Your blog posts are static, so there are no hacks other than breaking into the hosting machine, which is far harder than breaking into an outdated Wordpress and upgrading Wordpress every time a new version comes out is mundane and boring and feels like a chore.
The other great thing is that Jekyll is free and open source. But that’s almost a given nowadays.
Now, go ahead and try it for yourself! Don’t be afraid, I’m not a Ruby guy and I could install it easily. The hardest part was getting Ruby and a plugin installed that I wanted to use, but there are good instructions for that around.
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