Last night I finally pulled the trigger and moved my Ghost hosted blog to Jekyll. While the cost of running a managed blog was the most significant influence on the decision, there were other factors as well.
Ghost had been a promising idea when it started a few years back. A blog where the focus is on the act of writing. And it started well. The two-pane design with the plain text on the left and the rendered post on the right was great and allow you to see the post in real-time. In a recent change though, the Ghost decided that using a single pane with a WYSIWYG writing pane was more beneficial. The old two-pane environment was still there but just hidden away.
I’ve been looking to do more with my iPad Pro. I’m already using it for remote development work and a fair amount of writing, reading and listening. Unfortunately, a down-side of Ghost’s new writing pane made using the iPad Pro impossible. Characters were rendered twice with each keystroke, and I was unable to even copy and paste a blog post from another app such as Bear or Ulysses. In a recent update to Ghost this bug is fixed, but such a breaking change made me question why I was reliant on a product that prevented me from writing.
With Jekyll I can write anywhere with any app that I use daily. I can even write the post straight into my GitHub repo through my browser and save the changes which will automatically publish to my blog. The only thing that will stop me writing and publishing is whether I’ll have a connection to the Internet and in this day and age, that’s becoming such a rarity.
With a move to Jekyll, I’m also able to make changes to the layout of my blog in a much easier way than if I was using Ghost. With Ghost, you need a local working environment first to make your theme changes. Setting up a local environment is reasonably straightforward, but keeping it up and running is not as simple as Jekyll. With just a single command I can have my blog up and running on my browser, and I can make any changes I need to the layout. There’s a small number of dependencies to getting my blog running, and it only requires some flat files for content.
I’ve also got more control over the photos I use on my blog and where I host them. I can either include the images in my blog directly or upload them to another hosting service like Amazon S3 where they’re still in their original format and I can export them if I need too.
My days of being wowed by-products such as Ghost are probably over. Tried and trusted products that are simple to manage and let you own your data are two significant factors for me. Ghost looked to be simple, to begin with, but even now there’s still a large number of features that many other bloggers take for granted from their chosen CMS. I’ve tried Jekyll in the past, and now I wonder why I didn’t stick with it.
Data is always a significant factor with me. The export facility of Ghost is excellent, and they were able to allow me to download all the images for my blog through a separate link as well, but I don’t think that’s enough. A single zip file containing all data including images would make things so much easier.
Manton Reece has an idea for this, and it looks promising, but getting the more prominent companies to adopt this is another matter.
With Jekyll though, I can always trust in the fact that my data is there in the purest form needed and that’s in plain text files.