#New project problems

23 February 2014, 10:21

As I mentioned, I had the idea for CFFSW some six months ago. Part of what took me so long to make any progress was a giant amount of faffing about that can only come from knowing enough to be dangerous. In the end, I settled on Wordpress as a platform, knowing it was the one that I would be least tempted to divert my time from building the content to building the platform.

There are a few reasons for that. The first and most obvious being that Wordpress is extremely mature, thus making it far less likely that I should ever need to “go under the hood”. A second one is that it’s PHP, a language I have no desire to develop any competency in.

Something that made me lean away from Wordpress is my experience a couple of years ago, when Wordpress installs were getting exploited left right and centre (especially on Dreamhost). Trying to clean those up was a painful experience, but Dreamhost have made it a lot easier to upgrade Wordpress installs almost immediately (I either get an email with a link to click, or I get an email saying they’ve done it for me) which helps. I tidied up my Dreamhost practices a bit by having only one domain per user (here I mean unix user, I typically only deal with these when installing new things, thereafter most things have a web interface) and also enabling ‘Enhanced Security’ for each of those users (it boggled my mind to learn that this was not the case already). Although Dreamhost claim to enable this by default now, if you make a new user at the time of making a new domain (probably the most common use case) it’s not enabled. So much for that. I digress…

My first iteration of CFFSW actually involved a concerted effort in investigating various Python static-website generator options, and I even chose one (Nikola) and built a first draft. I was quite happy with, it was feature-enough-ful, looked shiny and new enough (thanks Bootstrap), the author/mailing list was responsive, I could write entries in Textile markup (same as Textpattern, which this blog uses) and hey, static sites do not get hacked! I thought I was golden.

But then… I put it down for four months, and when I picked it back up, a huge amount of development had passed. I discovered it is in fact possible for a project to be too active (or maybe, not yet stable enough).

And I remembered how annoying it is to install stuff from source on every computer I use in order to update a blog, which turns out to be at least four. Web interfaces do have their convenience.

However, I have an idea (which I haven’t tried out yet). Github lets you edit/add new files via the web interface, and they do a formatting preview for Textile and other markups. So I can basically use Github as my web interface to updating my blog. I just need to set up some mechanism that rebuilds/reuploads the pages when new commits arrive. (I can accept that requiring a src clone, because it should rarely need updating.) NB: if anyone can point me to some scripts/projects along this line, please do!

Finally, why not more Textpattern? I am quite used to it, but there are several factors against it:

  • Security: Requires more work to update, which means I’m more likely to leave it out of date for longer (FTPing files, Wordpress has spoiled me)
  • Far harder to change themes (which is why this blog still looks how I felt c2008)
  • PHP

If I use a Python static site generator I can do a little platform-building when I feel the urge. It never goes away completely. :)

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  1. Sounds like you want Github Pages

    — Claudine · Feb 25, 02:18 AM · #

  2. Hrmmm… maybe you are right. Since I can apparently use Textile with Jekyll, have a custom domain, and RSS/tags etc, my only final objection is that it’s Ruby not Python. :P

    pfctdayelise · Feb 28, 06:11 PM · #

  3. Hi! Sorry Nikola was a bit too shaky for you :-(

    We do try to not break things and keep sites building, but it does happen sometimes.

    You may want to take a look at http://statiki.muse-amuse.in/ for your idea of using github as a UI, it even builds things via Travis and deploys to GitHub pages!

    Roberto Alsina · Mar 3, 10:15 AM · #

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