A few months ago, I took the decision that I wanted to start writing some articles. At that time, one of the first things to consider, and that would definitely affect my efforts, was the decision of the platform where I would host the posts. The options were countless. For this reason, I created a list of criteria that were important to me, and based on those I came to the decision to try Jekyll.
Those criteria are:
- Ability to customize the look and feel
- Easy of setup and time to publish
- Thriving and big community
- Easy to use
One of the most important must-have for me was the ability to apply my personal look and feel and to able to experiment with the UI. Changing the theme, the structure, the fonts and the colors can best reflect the writers personality and personal taste. Given that, I rejected platforms like Medium, though I understand that by doing so I miss a huge pool of potential readers.
Easy of setup and time to publish
Another important aspect was the effort needed to setup and also how long it would take to actually be ready to publish the blog and ultimately start writing the content. From this point of view, CMS solutions like Wordpress or Drupal would be an overkill. My main purpose was to share my ideas and thoughts by writing content and not developing yet another website.
I cannot overlook the advantages and the wide range of features that these tools offer, but at that point, I felt that having to support a database and all the security risks that come with such a decision, was not necessary. Maybe for a non-technical person, features like the admin panel, the use of
WYSIWYG editors or the built-in newsletter feature is the whole deal, but for me that was not the case.
Having ruled out proprietary systems and CMS solutions, I was pretty much left with the option of using a static generator. Building a personal blog on a system that is supported by a vast community of developers can determine the ability to quickly adapt to future needs and technologies that will come up in our ever-changing world. Given that, the two of the most prominent such tools are Hugo and Jekyll.
Easy to use
One more decisive factor was the easy to use. Both when the developing the platform and when writing a new blogpost. Comparing Hugo and Jekyll on the process of creating, writing and publishing a post is almost familiar. Both support Markdown and they both provide some command line interface to create a new post (though I have to admit that to do so on Jekyll you have to install a plugin). Maybe there are some points in favor of Hugo when it comes to speed, but with the amount of posts that I hope to write in the coming 2 years, this advantage is not so important.
Then, it comes to how to theme the blog. And here, Jekyll and more precisely the template engine that it uses, makes the different for me. Based on my personal preferences Liquid seemed a bit more intuitive than Go Template. Maybe having worked a lot with Symfony and Drupal 8 and the template engine that they are based on, named Twig, affected my judge, since they look familiar. Also having more experience in Ruby and its ecosystem compared to the equivalent of Go further adds to this.
The important for me was that it enables me to create a rapid prototype and start focusing on the content quite fast.
Maybe in the future, and if I gain more knowledge and experience in the Go community, I will change my mind, but since then I will continue with Jekyll.
My experience so far with Jekyll is amazing and on par with my expectations. One of the greatest positives is that it supports hosting in Github Pages and due to that there are a lot of resources and ideas on how to automate the release and the publication of the changes automatically by taking advantage of the Travis CI. Furthermore, the thriving community of Jekyll offers a wide variety of plugins to support the features that any developer may face.
And this is the story and the decision process that I followed to end up choosing to use Jekyll. Maybe some time in the future I will have to move to another platform, but for now, Jekyll gives me the opportunity to focus on writing content instead of supporting the platform. Anyhow, I believe that having so many products competing each other is beneficial for everyone in the community as they are trying to provide a better offering and gain a bigger percentage of the pie.
Finally, I believe that everyone (or better those that are interested and want to) should try and start a new blog, and most preferably a custom one, to better share their personality with the rest of the world, not only by their writings but also with the look and feel of their blog.