A few years ago, I blogged about moving my sites from WordPress to Pelican, a static site generator. At the time, static site generators were getting a lot of hype for building fast-loading, secure, self-archiving web pages while allowing people to escape the bloated sluggishness of WordPress. Those benefits are real, but they come at the cost of a bit more technical overhead by the blogger. One does not dash off a quick post in a static site generator. There’s a multi-step procedure, and it has to be followed correctly. It’s not a long procedure, but it’s just enough to kill some of the spontaneity of blogging. After switching to Pelican, my posting frequency plummeted.
In an effort to combine some of the benefits of static site generators with the convenience of script-based blog management, I then moved my sites to Grav. That made blogging a bit easier, but uncovered another problem with non-standard solutions: non-standard technical problems.
WordPress powers almost half of the top web sites in the world. Thousands of developers, backed by a huge tech company, work full time on the platform. It is a bloated piece of software, and it has real flaws, but for the overwhelming majority of users it works well enough most of the time. When some problem with it does surface, a quick search inevitably brings up lots of other folks with exactly the same problem, and someone will soon figure out out how to fix it. None of that is true for small projects like Grav, or any of the static site generators. After a few Grav glitches broke my site in weird ways, forcing me to flub around in the code to find my own solutions, I decided it was time to switch platforms again.
I looked at several alternatives, but finally came back to the devil I knew. My new Linux desktop was easy to configure with a WordPress development environment, and I soon had both my personal site and my science blog up and running on self-hosted installations of WordPress. So far I’m using the default theme for both sites. It’s simple and pretty much guaranteed to work. However, my new desktop development system will let me tinker with theme development eventually. The new WordPress Block Editor system is interesting, but for now I’m creating posts in a text editor and pasting them into the interface.
Because my digression into alternative platforms involved self-archiving solutions, “migrating” the blogs ended up being very easy. I’ve moved only the most recent few posts over on each site. The archived pages have stayed exactly where they were. Anyone coming to the page from a search engine should find what they’re looking for, and links from other sites will continue to work as before.
Enjoy the new blog.