WordPress to Octopress and Back

Apparently, I have a reduced tolerance for random geekery. I like a lot of geekery, but my time has become increasingly precious as the years have gone by. It’s been years since the last time I built a PC from parts and then tried to get all of the peripherals running on Linux. That was fun in its own way, but I don’t have a tolerance for that brand of fun these days.

I see it also in the use of my Galaxy Tab vs. my iPad. The user experience on Honeycomb just isn’t very good, at least when compared to an iPad. I actually have a good deal of faith that Android will become much better, but it’s just not there yet and when I feel like using a tablet, I invariably would rather use my iPad than my Galaxy Tab. The one exception to this is that I really do like Firefox on the Galaxy Tab and wish I could have that on my iPad as well.

This isn’t about PCs, Linux or tablets

In August, I embarked on a bit of geekery on this blog, switching it to Octopress. At the time, I blogged about how cool Octopress and Jekyll would be for me. That was the last thing I blogged here.

I converted my main blog, Blue Sky On Mars, as well. I have posted a few blog posts there since the Octopress conversion, but not many.

I did like using my editor du jour (TextMate or Sublime) to edit posts in Markdown. That part was fabulous. Having a static, unhackable site was nice. I thought that it would be nice not to have to upgrade WordPress, but it turns out that upgrading WordPress is actually less work than upgrading Octopress. My hosting company makes that a one click process and I think I can even have them do it automatically. Sure, failing to upgrade Octopress doesn’t mean my site gets hacked as it can with WordPress, but the simple upgrades make it a solvable problem.

Part of the reason I got annoyed with upgrading WordPress was that I never converted Blue Sky On Mars over to a “one click install” at the hosting company. I’ll fix that this time around.

I didn’t like:

  • annoying command lines

  • long build times

  • an inability to use alternative blogging clients

I like the command line, really

I generally have at least one terminal tab open on my Mac, and will often use it for file operations when others would try to get Finder to do what they need. Typing

rake "new_post[My Cool New Post]"
mate source/_posts/(think about today's date)2012-03-01-my-cool-new-post.markdown
rake "isolate[source/_posts/blah blah blah...]"
rake integrate
rake gen_deploy

is a fairly irritating dance. There’s probably an Octopress bundle for TextMate that makes that easier. Or, I could just use WordPress.

Long build times

I didn’t think I’d care about the build times, honestly. Blue Sky On Mars has more than 2,000 posts. It takes several minutes to build. My computer is fast enough that it doesn’t get slow while building.

But, I don’t like having to do the whole isolate business in order to preview my post properly. I don’t like the fact that I can’t just start a thread about the post on G+ and then go back and link to it. I could, but I’d have to rebuild and reupload the whole thing again.

For this site, Octopress is no big deal. The number of posts here is small. I’d rather not have to maintain Octopress and WordPress, however, so I’ll just switch back.

Switching back was trivial, by the way. “mv kevindangoor.com.old kevindangoor.com”, convert my single new post to HTML and paste it into WordPress’ post form. BSOM has a few more posts, but it’s still not a big thing.

Alternative clients

There are some nice workflows for blogging coming up on the iPad. Blogsy is a nice app, and the new Photoshop on the iPad looks like a great way to quickly customize an image and put it in a post. My assumption was that I’d do my blogging-on-the-go in Evernote and just copy the contents into a file for Octopress. That’s perfectly reasonable, but having the option to use other blogging clients is nice.

Fewer tweaky bits

Generally, it’s just less tweaky to use WordPress. I remember a couple of times when I got cryptic errors from Octopress (I believe the Markdown parser, specifically) because I had messed something up in a post file. That was annoying. Having to remember how I needed to specify my categories also got to be annoying sometimes.

All the little paper cuts add up. Say what you will about WordPress, but it’s been around for years with an audience that is not very technically minded. The roughest edges were polished down a good long time ago.

It all comes down to writing

In the end, blogging is all about the writing (unless you’re a photoblogger). I used to do quite a bit of blogging, and I enjoy writing in general. Choosing the geeky blogging solution was a mistake for me. Not a huge mistake, but as I said at the beginning: time is precious. Enough with the monkeying with the blog… back to writing.