New Year, New Blog

January 4, 2014

It’s a whole new year, and I’ve got a whole new blog. This time around, I knew I wanted a static blog generator instead of a WordPress site (they are a little more developer friendly, and there are no security vulnerabilities with static HTML), and I’ve been window shopping a bit. A self-hosted blog was important to me since I want to make sure I will always own and control all my own content.

The Options

Though popular, Octopress was out, because of my experience using it on OKC.js. It is difficult to customize, and the Octopress code is mixed in with your blog and website content, making upgrading difficult as well.

Using Jekyll was very tempting – and I almost used it, but I decided to take a look at another option first – and I’m very glad I did.

Enter Middleman

I ended up going with Middleman for this blog. We just re-launched the Brightbit website with it, and Joshua (my design co-founder) was raving about it, so I had to give it a shot. Both Jekyll and Octopress use Liquid templates, which are a learning curve if you’ve never used them. I personally don’t like the syntax, so I wasn’t too keen on doing a lot of layout customization with it.

Middleman, however, is different. Middleman offers so much more flexibility – pure Ruby code, Sass, the option to use Slim or Haml for templates, blog posts, and pages, and the same asset pipeline that Rails has for combining and compressing your CSS and JavaScript into a single file for production deployment. Layout customization is also easier and better feeling in general. The last, and perhaps biggest reason Middleman is a winner is that Middleman exists entirely inside it’s own self-contained gem. Your site’s project folder has only what it should – your site’s content. There is no Middleman cruft in there that you have to bring along, and upgrades are clean and brainless since Middleman is a gem.

Wrapping Up

Importing all my old posts from WordPress and converting them all to markdown was a bit tricky and time-consuming (though wp2middleman did most of the heavy lifting), but I’m glad I did it. Here’s to a great 2014 on a great new (and much better looking) blog.

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