Posted on Wed 22 August 2018

Read Time: 4 minutes

Blog Engine Revamp - Full Cirle”

Ghost 2.0 was just released. In a lot of ways, it is an excellent release. The entire engine is elegant and easy to use. I can absolutely see why so many people love it.

Unfortunately, I didn’t love it as much.

Here are the issues that I saw. I want to note here that these are issues that are tied, very clearly, to my corner case. I think that the Ghost developers are making a product that best suits a large portion of their user-base. They should. I am just not a part of that base.

Editor

The new editor is gorgeous. The dynamic cards absolutely add excellent functionality. They also make the editor far busier and much more clumsy.

Ghost claims that:

Ghost’s editor is still about doing one thing, really well: Writing.

I don’t think it is. I think the editor is more about providing formatting tools and rich content than it is about writing. From my own experience, the writing process was certainly degraded by the cards. The movement away from a simple Markdown editor (or at least leaving it as an option) definitely figured heavily in my decision.

Note, too, that in the movement away from Markdown specific editor certain features were simply dropped. Footnotes are not supported by the new editor. This is a big deal for how I write. It is true that I can create a new Markdown card and then edit in footnotes, but that card doesn’t always hold focus well, cut-and-paste is iffy at best, and really the cards just make the interface clumsier. That doesn’t help me write. That works against my writing.

Export

When I started having issues with the Koenig editor I started to look into exporting my content. Exporting content from Ghost is a nightmare. You can export your content but only into JSON export document. This helps you if you want to import your content into another Ghost instance and that is about it. To do the export here, I had to manually copy and paste my Markdown files. Which, of course, would have been even more difficult if I had been using the new editor, which doesn’t use an easily transportable text format, for most of my work.

Blog engines come and go. I want my content to be accessible and transportable without them. When it comes to users with particular use cases and needs this becomes and even more critical issue. I try to make my site accessible, but I know that I am missing tags here and there and that I can’t always provide for every situation. So, I have an backup option. If you want my content, you can grab the whole repository on Github and transform the Markdown files into whatever format you need. This is a net positive for me. It may not be a common problem, but it is very nice to always have that option.

Themes

I bought my Ghost theme. I bought it because the theme requirements for Ghost can be a lot more complex and I didn’t really have the time to dig into Handlebars. I really liked the Eston theme that I chose, but that theme is no longer compliant with Ghost 2.0. It isn’t compliant because the editor demands that every theme accommodate their image handling. Now yeah, I could have left it broken. After all, it is a theme I am using for my own site. Even if I had done that, it still would have added additional and meaningless classes to my code solely to fit the editor’s WYSIWYG image structure. I am sure that for many the new image handling is great. I would rather have the simplicity of Markdown and (if I really need to do image work) have the power of HTML and CSS to fall back on.

So where to now?

I went back to where I started.

Sometimes, you need to use something else to fully realize just how useful a tool really is. I’m using the Pelican static site generator. I took the theme I originally adapted and modified it to match the look and color of the previous site. I was able to work with the Jinja templating engine that Pelican uses and create a different format for images that I post. I may also create one for asides as I go on. I also updated the responsiveness of the site.

Overall, I am very happy with the results. It’s good to be back on a static site.

I want to end by saying that I don’t think that Ghost is bad software. It is excellent software designed by a very talented and passionate team. I appreciate that. It just wasn’t the right tool for me.

Author: Geoff Gimse

Category: site.news

Tags: pelican, ghost, technology, blog

© Geoffrey Gimse. Built using Pelican. Theme adapted from pelican-svbhack available on github with design elements inspired by the Eston Ghost Theme by mikedidthis. Many of the images used on this site are in the Public Domain and available from Openclipart, others have been purchased for use via The Noun Project.