Are we there yet?November 2, 2018
I have spent the past seventeen years trying to launch a blog. That is a bit of a dramatization, but not much of one.
In 2001, I set up a blog powered by Blogger. That was followed by TextPattern, and then WordPress, which I’ve used for any number of projects ever since WordPress version numbers began with a 1. I’ve experimented with Tumblr, Jekyll, micro.blog, Medium, MediaWiki (yes, the same system that powers Wikipedia) and even the mostly obscure Facebook Notes—which, despite being a Facebookishly-shameless Medium knockoff, was probably the closest Facebook ever came to providing an appealing blogging experience.
Presently, I have 94% of a really nice-looking WordPress blog sitting on my local development server. I’d hoped to launch it soon. I worked hard on that thing. Today, I decided to back-burner it for something simpler. What you’re looking at right now isn’t a blog or CMS—it’s hand-built, manually maintained PHP and HTML.
WordPress and Jekyll are powerful systems. I appreciate their versatility. But here’s the thing: more and more, I’m feeling like that versatility places a layer of hack between me and what I want to write. This is more of an emotional, visceral assessment than a technical one: the thought of setting up, building, and using an automated blog just makes me feel tense. There are simply more moving parts.
Also: I want direct access to my content. I was going over some old archived projects a little while ago, and I was curious to see what they were. It didn’t take me long to realize that resurrecting them was going to take some time: the content was stored in a database I’d set up in a previous development environment, and the projects themselves were built on old versions of web-based software that would have required some configuring. With no database and the simplest templating system you could imagine, I feel like I’m a lot more in control of the site—at least, as long as it stays simple.
So for the moment, I’ve dropped the systems. I’m back to HTML5 Boilerplate, a few basic PHP includes, and standard HTML/CSS. It’s clunky and limited: no search, no tags, no categories, no archives, no plugins, no widgets, no templates, no nothing. HTML pages linked with PHP—that’s it.
I will, at some point, want some or all of those things. At that point, I will build a more comprehensive blog. But for now, I’m keeping things simple.
Welcome to it.