The lure of the shiny new blog

Like any software technologist that blogs, I toy with the idea of migrating to the latest and greatest software as it comes out. I sometimes toy with the idea longer than the lure of the "shiny" new software lasts.

For instance when we switched to using Octopress for my companies engineering blog, I thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. I was going to be able to control my own destiny, write the code that I wanted, use the latest syntax, and on and on. I was going to hand roll everything and use the GitHub pages to serve everything, and deploy using the built in Gruntfile tasks.

Well I made that leap with Octopress roughly a year ago. It started out just fine, but then I got busy with life. I got really behind in the software updates for Octopress, to the point that they released major version changes, and changed repos without me knowing. I was essentially too far behind to not have an intermediate upgrade, and I didn't even know where to begin.

Because of life happening, I found that I was having to relearn how to work with Octopress every time that I wanted to post something. It got more and more cumbersome for me because I wasn't remembering everything from post to post and eventually I just stopped writing posts.

So I made yet another decision. I was going to go back to a database driven solution with a live editor. That way I at least took the build and deployment step out of the equation.

I'm not as hard on Wordpress as some people are. I've written my fair share of themes and plugins for it. But it has become very large unruly to tame as it has become more of a CMS rather than a blogging platform. I've still got some other projects that run it, but it's not really what I was looking for in this endeavour.

Now I'm still as intrigued as the next person about new technology. I'm very quickly becoming versed in Node.js as web server technology. So a few months ago I went on the hunt for a blogging platform that ran on top of it.

What I came up with Ghost. Ghost started out as a Kickstarter project from a former Wordpress employee. It's pretty laser focused on blogging and that alone. It's database driven still and can be edited in an admin screen.

In addition to it running on Node.js, it also uses Markdown to write the blog posts. While you may be asking yourself, "Why introduce another change into the equation?" Well as part of my job I use markdown on a daily basis. It's essentially providing a way to generate HTML markup with shorthand syntax. It tends to be faster to write things in because it uses common text nomenclature to generate out the markup.

Ghost also has a very slick and easy to use Admin. It's laser focused on publishing blog posts. There's not a huge amount of cruft to get in the way doing that.

I finally got over the apathy hump of going through the process of migrating everything over to a new platform that could run Node.js, changing my CNAME, setting up the redirects that I need, and updating the Disqus comments over to the new blog.

I picked Red Hat's OpenShift for hosting this blog. You get 3 gears free as part of the sign up. With as little traffic as this blog sees I think it is a fine choice to get acquainted with Node.js and git based deployments (when needed). OpenShift also had an up to date preconfigured Ghost quickstart. All that I needed to do was seed the github repo to the RHC command line tools to create the app and deploy the code. After that was done, all I basically need to do is use git the way that I always have (git add ., git commit, git push) for any changes or configuration I needed to make and it will do the deployments to the server.

So welcome to the new blogging experience on and sorry there wasn't a TL;DR version.

Ray Pierce

Web Developer, RetailMeNot, Mentor, NodeBot builder, Texan

Austin, TX Ya'll
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