I’ve been through a lot of blogging engines. My first blog was built on the Radio Userland platform, created by Dave Winer who technorati know as the guy (controversially) behind RSS. I’ve used Das Blog, Blogger, and BlogEngine.net. I’ve used Tumblr. I’ve even implemented my own lightweight blogging platform in the past. It’s interesting how the concept of blogging is so simple but the platforms and tools are anything but. Perhaps it has to do with what I will call the “Todo List Software Principle” - the more generalized a problem set, the more variety and churn will exist for technical solutions.
Each platform I’ve used had things I liked: Userland dealt with hosting and server configuration while I simply wrote, Das Blog was written with a toolset I understand well, Blogger was painless like Userland but also free, writing my own blog engine helped me understand why it was so difficult and BlogEngine was more modern and sleek than Das Blog.
Each platform also had pain points: Userland wasn’t free and ultimately my content was not my own. Das Blog had pain points when new versions of the .NET framework started to come around. Blogger was free but complex if you needed to engage the templates and underlying structure of the engine. BlogEngine’s ecosystem seems to have died and comments are a nightmare.
My colleague Staxmanade introduced me to Octopress as he was in the process of migrating old posts from blogger and writing a series of posts about it. Octopress is an experiment but here is what I like: it strips away a lot of the abstractions from my previous blog engines and allows me to deal with, for the most part, plain text. It also integrates with Github where my content can be hosted for free. Finally it’s a programmer’s blog engine; the idea of using markdown and code to build my blog is appealing.
Although I’m certain Octopress is not the last blog engine I try my hand at (foreshadowing here) I will be using it in the forthcoming weeks both to follow the Staxmanade series and to learn more about Ruby and statically generated websites.