When setting up this page, I’ve looked at several blog systems and tried out a few of them. Here are my results and why I’ve chosen Jekyll.
What I wanted:
- A blog
- Some static pages
- RSS feed
- Themable with easy customization
- Extensible (I want my random quotes back)
- Self hosted
- Easy to setup and run
The last criterium rules out the bigger ones like Joomla or Drupal.
This list is alphabetically sorted except the solution, Jekyll, which is at the end.
Of course there are more systems and this is highly opinionated. But those are the ones I happened to look at. And bare in mind that this is a snapshot of late december 2015.
So here is the list:
Anchor makes visually a good impression. It is lightweight, has a nice admin panel and being a PHP application, it is easy to setup.
But the project itself seems rather stalled with the last blog entry being two years old. Yet there is activity on their GitHub page, but no release. And they currently don’t have a plugin system yet.
So it felt to uncertain.
Bludit is another PHP solution. The admin panel looks again nice and clean and the data is stored within the file system.
So far so good. I played with it a bit locally and wanted to develop a small plugin for displaying random quotes. Turned out that the plugin system isn’t very flexible and undocumented.
And there was no RSS feed (in 0.7.2, changed now in 1.0).
So I went through the code of the system. While it is easy to navigate and I found the stuff you need, it reveals that the code quality isn’t in its best shape and I’ve seen some design decisions I really didn’t like.
Which is a bit of a pitty as the whole concept isn’t bad. As it is in active development, it might improve a lot in the future and worth a second look then.
But it didn’t offer a comments system running on your server, just a Disqus plugin.
And the admin panel just looks like WordPress. Somehow. So as I wanted to try something new, this all felt too familiar and not lightweight enough. Despite their claims, I think a full Silex/Symfony stack is pretty heavy.
Ghost looks surely sleek but I personally don’t like node.js applications and they look very centric to their hosted solution. And as I want to have my page on my server, this software was out.
Nibbleblog is the predecessor of Bludit and in maintenance mode with the developers focussing on Bludid. Not worth it to start a new page with it.
WordPress would just offer exactly what I was looking for but:
I felt it was too big and bloated and as I know it very well, it was boring.
So Jekyll it is. No admin panel, just writing a bunch of markdown files, generate the page and upload the result. Nice and simple. And it can’t get any faster to serve.
Generating the uploading the files can be later painless automated.
As the site consists only out of a few source files, versioning and having a history is very easy.
The default theme was good and with a few touches, it was all I wanted.
Jekyll itself is highly popular and the development is very active.
Contra: No comments. Of course, how on static pages? I looked at HashOver which is some kind of self hosted Disqus. But as the author admits: It was his first bigger project and you notice that when you look at the source. This is why HashOver 2.0 is in development. But it isn’t quite there yet without having a release yet.
Writing something like that won’t be hard and can be done as spare time project easily. At some point, no pressure here yet. When this is ready, I surely will put it on GitHub.
All in all, I’m quite happy with Jekyll so far.