This website started as a simple Wordpress blog post some 4 years ago. The domain was moved back and forth from managed to hosted solutions as my time constraints and patience evolved over time. I even tried Medium, which at first was a welcoming free to use publishing platform with promises of exposure that later would be putting a paywall behind posts without writers' consent. This was the time to move on to something else.
I had looked up Jekyll and a bunch of other static website generators until I found Hugo, which I wanted to keep for a long time. It was far from perfect, still required me to spend a fair amount of time setting it up and it was a bit finicky to edit in terms of appearance. I stuck with it because I was able to host it on Netlify, the new venture capital backed behemoth promising wonders for static websites. The setup was dead simple and I could add posts with GitHub commits, as long as I didn't do much to the website.
Earlier this year I learned about Ghost and I saw some potential. But life got in the way, until now. I wanted to swap the cliché "Hello World from my new blog!" for a heartfelt statement of how happy I was with my setup process. Hopefully you can make some sense out of my story and maybe jump into it yourself if you're considering changing out your blogging platform.
I have some blog posts I want to migrate to here, but other than that I started with a domain and a freshly created Linux box running Ubuntu.
The tutorial I followed was trivial, just install some dependencies and start the installation script. This script is an absolute godsend. Having installed NGINX minutes prior to running the script, I opened the documentation proactively to see if I still remembered how to properly configure an NGINX virtual host.
I didn't have to do a thing. The script created the configuration file for the website, asked if I wanted SSL configured (who doesn't) and promptly got a certificate from Let'sEncrypt. Pretty impressive. After telling it to turn the lights on, I was good to go.
This ain't your average tool
When you use a piece of software that is this streamlined to get you up and running as soon as possible, you start to wonder how the rest of the alternatives out there can be so behind. The truth here is that this sort of software is scarce – allowing for a free-to-host-yourself license is just icing on the cake at this point.
A few months ago I also found Discourse, which similarly scratched a longstanding itch for a decent forum software that was designed from the ground up to be used everywhere by anyone, with intuitive controls.
I couldn't mention excellent software design without mentioning my transition from Erlang to Elixir, courtesy of the lovely tooling and thoughtful design considerations from the team.
Why aren't there more projects like these?
There are thousands of open source projects out there, most of which are either over-engineered or lack an appropriate abstraction layer (installation and configuration scripts) to assist the developers in getting them deployed as quickly as possible. I know the eCommerce industry, at least here in Portugal, is dominated by bulky legacy PHP frameworks for decades now. We're only now starting to see some Portuguese adventurers opting for Shopify, but whoever wants to host their own platform will have to make a choice between Magento, Prestashop or WooComerce. I can guarantee that as of today, none of those are good choices for multiple reasons.
Everywhere I look there seems to be a huge vaccuum for these tools, so I expect this to be one of the big things that will change in the Software Engineering industry within the next 10 years. If you know some good options for self hosting in the eCommerce industry, please tell me! Ping me at [email protected].
Don't be afraid to move to modern, developer friendly tools. Make sure they stick around by supporting them in some way, either contributing with a donation or with a pull request every now and then. Also give Ghost a try! It's awesome 😍