A week ago, I wrote :

Sigh, I can’t seem to make up my mind about the platform to host my blog on. You can find my new blog over at www.riaanhanekom.com.

Will post the details soon over there. This blog will self-destruct in a week or so.

My first blog was at Blogger, back when Google just bought it. What pained me then, was the lack of control - I couldn’t customize it to do exactly what I wanted too. After that, I tried Wordpress, where I was happy for quite some time, but the workflow of editing posts in html or via the rich text editor didn’t work out - I realised that I was spending more time formatting posts (images, code, etc.) then writing them.

This drove me to Posterous, where I could write in Markdown, have gist support, and post by email. This helped me to blog more regularly since it lowered the friction in posting considerably. There were a few bugs here and there, but nothing too dramatic. Over time, I was more and more convinced that I should move again due to:

  • Death by a thousand paper cuts - little things that just worked in other blogging platforms were not functional (or plain non-existent) in Posterous.
  • The acquisition of Posterous by Twitter puts the platform at risk of stagnating.
  • Lack of control (again).

I’ve decided to finally bite the bullet and host my own instance of a blogging platform that I can control. This blog is now running on Octopress, the “blogging framework for hackers”, and I’ve never been happier.

It features :

  • Built on Jekyll, the blog aware static site generator. There is nothing dynamic about the content served - all of these pages have been pre-rendered as static html files. This makes it fast and easy to scale.
  • An awesome starter template that looks well on mobile and desktop. Easy to customize, override, and replace.
  • Supports Markdown and Textile. Personally I prefer writing in Markdown, but Textile is also a viable alternative to HTML.
  • A bunch of plugins, and Liquid templating support.
  • A collection of custom Rake tasks to help with previewing, generating and creating content.

Revision control support comes out of the box with git once you clone the Octopress repository. This is not only useful in versioning and restoring posts (and the entire site, including styles and plugins), but also serves as a backup in case of emergency.

For writing posts, I now have a much more minimalistic toolset. I use Vim, with the Janus pack to provide markdown support and much more. To test rendering of Markdown, I use vim-markdown-preview - a simple [:Mm] command brings up a browser with the rendered html.

When pushing to my remote git repository a git hook clones the repository, generates the site, and copies the static files to where it gets served from - rudimentary CI for blogging.

Octopress is truly the blogging platform for hackers. I think I’ll stick with it for a while.