Blogofile

Blogofile is blog software that lets you write blog posts as plain text files, which are compiled into a web site.

It’s enlightened, I think.

It’s a hell of a lot easier to get going than WordPress. But far more importantly, it treats your blog as source code. I’d like more things in life to be treated like code.

Background

A week ago I ran an Arch system upgrade that hosed sshd. So I had to rebuild the server. In EC2 that’s pretty easy if you’re using EBS.

But no one likes that sort of hassle — here’s a trace of my emotional state changes:

  1. Fucking hell Arch, you can’t possibly be serious
  2. Let’s just get this over with
  3. I’ll only rebuild what’s absolutely necessary
  4. Man is it easy to install software with Arch
  5. There’s no way I’m dealing with WordPress again — I’ll find something simpler

Googled “file based blog” — not much help, but on closer inspection, something useful!

After a relatively painless experience of getting the required dependencies installed, I was running a stand-alone blog that served content from plain ol’ text files that sat in a plain ol’ file system. I used plain ol’ Emacs and ran a build. A little Nginx proxy_pass love and I had a sane, cogent blog!

What’s Wrong with WordPress?

Nothing, it’s a terrific piece of software. When I used it, I was continually blow away by it’s polish, feature set, and relative ease of use.

But a couple things caused my eye to wander:

  • While it’s easy to setup relative to a lot of crap out there, WordPress is not that easy to setup. I wanted something that I could install as a single Arch package and run as a daemon… simple!

  • I absolutely hate storing text content in a database. I absolutely hate editing text content in a web based WYSIWYG editor. I want text files. There are lots of tools I can use with text files.

I wanted a system where I could open my laptop, hack away on content and then publish that when I was ready. This is a coding problem. I don’t need any other memes. I just want code and a build process. I know this will work.

Text files are the lingua franca of information!

Missing WordPress, a Little

Okay, WordPress did give me a gorgeous, modern, ultra hip blog with just the click of a few buttons.

So, I need to dig up some templates, CSS, etc. and make this work myself. That’s not the end of the world — but it does raise the barrier to adopt this approach.

That said, it’s an easy trade of to make: my “blog” now is a self-contained directory of text files stored in github! To restore it, I use a git clone operation. I have a complete history of all changes. If I want to make my life complicated, I can work on branches for previewing changes and then merge them into “master”.

Whatever, the point is it’s code.

Much Potential With Blogfile

Blogfile is really a web site generator that uses Python, Mako templates and various markup flavors to generate content. It’s a content centric tool that sits somewhere between a CMS and raw HTML.

To generate content, you register a controller with Blogfile. The “blog” is one type of controller. But it looks pretty easy to create new types.

So I see myself using Blogfile for other content management, assuming this experiment goes well. In particular, I’d like a place to store my presentation slides. E.g. use markdown to organize a “slide” that gets turned into HTML that gets inserted into an S5 presentation.

Ideas:

  • Presentation generator (S5)
  • List of YouTube videos
  • Project web sites (e.g. e2)

Random Comments

Blogofile follows Sphinx’s example.

This Blogofile project seems to have slowed or even stalled.

blogofile.com site is built with Blogofile, but it doesn’t make systematic use of markdown for content. E.g. non blog posts are written in HTML, embedded in Mako templates.

Using Disqus to enable comments on a static site is a great example of separation of concerns and is brilliant! Now if there was only some way to do this for ad syndication, hmmm…

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