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The team took a trip to San Francisco the first weekend of December so I took advantage of the time spent waiting in the airport to migrate my site from Movable Type to Jekyll. Although I was always happy with MT, I had started looking into Jekyll simply to understand how Github Pages works, and became attached to it's simplicity while still covering all of my needs for my personal site. This all seemed to happen at the same time I was re-imagining the purpose of this site.

purpose

So what is the purpose of this site? I started to question why I had a site, at least, why am I using a blog engine that acts as a blog and a site, instead of a site that happens to have a blog. My end goal is to have a presence on the internet; a personal "home" for my doings. I still want to write things, but more and more my writings are small snippets, links, or comments — not full out POSTS. I've started using FeedBurner to see if people even subscribe to it in the first place.

So a blog is not the focus of this site. Information about me and my projects are. I re-organized the homepage to be a simple "about" page. I figured most visitors are coming from Twitter or Github, wanting to learn more about me or a specific project of mine. Landing on the homepage for a series of posts (which were all pretty small on average) is more of an obstruction to that goal.

why Jekyll

Movable Type appealed to me at first because I liked the idea of publishing static files instead of dynamically generating the page each request. MT offers quite a bit of flexibility too, first being open source, second, the admin area lets you tweak and adjust things to your hearts content. I was able to choose from a variety of themes online and tweak it to my likings; this is a common thing among OSS blog engines out there.

So things were good, for a time. But times change, and I wanted to change, so I started tweaking my site some. Originally I had widgets on every page: a tag cloud, archives broken down by month, latest posts, and my pages. I guess at the time I thought those things were "cool" or useful, but as I saw them on other sites I began to despise some of them. I don't care for the idea of tag clouds or archives by month really. So I wanted to rip those out of my site, but having not tinkered with my layout and templates in some time, I couldn't figure out how to accomplish this. That is to say after half an hour I gave up.

I started thinking that this was not "my" site... it's the site that MT gave me based on some input and a lot of things assumed or done for me. I visit the server (via the admin), write a post or setup a page, and ask it kindly to generate some html and place it in the public folder.

I also thought it all overkill. My pages don't change often, and my writings are small and infrequent. For this I had to setup:

  • cgi on my webserver
  • a database with user and permissions
  • MT code in the cgi-bin folder with the correct config information
  • run the install file via visiting a special url
  • maintain MT with updates
  • edit and publish static css on my own
  • edit and publish templates via the admin interface

"Too much" I said! Jekyll is simpler and for my use cases faster. It lacks much of what Wordpress or MT provide, but much of that I don't care for or need anyway. I now write my site in Textmate and Markdown. I have things laid out in a folder structure, and Jekyll generates html code for me. A little jekyll && rsync script to upload the code to my site and I'm done.

I'll dive into my experience migrating from MT to Jekyll in my next post.

@ctshryock

About

My name is Clint Shryock. I develop things in Go and Ruby. I live in central Missouri, where the weather is beautiful 4 months of the year.
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