What simple, self-hosted blogging platform do I want?
October 6, 2013 5:40 PM   Subscribe

I'm sick of Wordpress and all it's cruft. What self-hosted blogging platform should I be looking at in 2013? Details within.

I'm a long time blogger looking for a new platform. I cut my teeth over a decade ago, using a self-written perl script, then switched to Moveable Type, and now have been running Wordpress for a few years. I'm fed up with the constant need to upgrade, the feature bloat, and complicated options that are really only applicable if you're using it as a CMS (I'm not). I'd like to simplify.

Here's a list of features I'd like:

1) Self-hosted. I want my content to live on my site.

2) Dead simple interface. I don't need all the bells and whistles of wordpress. A title box, a content box, and a tags field would pretty much cover it. Markdown support would be great, but optional.

3) Stability. I don't want to be nagged to upgrade every few days (only to have the upgrade break something so I have to spend an hour futzing around to fix it). I'm not afraid of slogging through some command-line config and install, but once it's up, I just want it to work.

4) Easy way to post links and embed media, in the same style as tumblr. A quick-post bookmarklet would be great, and if I pop in a youtube address, it would be awesome if it's smart enough to embed the video.

5) Some theme-ability would be nice. I'm not afraid of CSS and HTML and would like to be able to tweak the design a little (but again, I'm thinking simple here, so I don't need the wordpress-style infinite options for theming).

So what blogging platform am I looking for? I've been out of the loop for a while and would be grateful for pointers to the latest and greatest.
posted by chrisamiller to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
It sounds like you're looking for Jekyll.
posted by ignignokt at 6:05 PM on October 6, 2013

Static site generators probably reminiscent of your original Perl script have made a pretty big comeback in the form of Jekyll and Pelican. They support self-hosted blogs, Markdown, zero upgrades, theme-ability, and plugins that handle embedded video links. There are also post bookmarklets that streamline your workflow with Jekyll--not sure about Pelican.

On preview, yeah.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 6:12 PM on October 6, 2013

Octopress is a sort of pre-configured version of Jekyll that can be quicker to get going. I should note, though, that neither of them seem to be specifically what you're asking for in the question; these don't involve any sort of log-in system or user interface; the site is modified by editing text files and running scripts.

I personally like doing things that way but I have to say that I'm extremely underwhelmed by the "Liquid" templating language that is embedded in Jekyll and Octopress; it does not look to me like it was created by someone with experience writing parsers. Trying to do anything sophisticated with it I quickly run into bugs and limitations.
posted by XMLicious at 6:23 PM on October 6, 2013

Response by poster: Hrmm - Jekyll is interesting, I'll read up on it. One possible limitation is that my current hosting provider (nearlyfreespeech.net) doesn't support rails. I can look into switching if something on rails ends up being my best option, but I really like the cheap pay-as-you-go model of NFS.
posted by chrisamiller at 6:27 PM on October 6, 2013

Pelican looks the most promising so far to me -- it looks like it's written in python, so it should be lighter on its feet and more portable.
posted by amtho at 6:39 PM on October 6, 2013

Best answer: I went from Wordpress to Pelican a few months ago. In between I tried Anchor, which hits 1, 2 and 5 on your list very solidly.
posted by COD at 6:44 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

You can look into Stacey cms or Monstra both are pretty lightweight.
posted by andendau at 6:56 PM on October 6, 2013

ghost is a new blogging platform you might be interested in.
posted by wayland at 7:35 PM on October 6, 2013

Have you heard about Habari?
posted by RandyWalker at 7:38 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you like the cheap pay-as-you-go model of NFS, you might like the even cheaper pay-as-you-go models of AWS' S3 for hosting static files. I don't know much about EC2 (AWS' VPS offering) but I think it's comparable. Both have a year free trial.
posted by wayland at 7:38 PM on October 6, 2013

I have been using textpattern which is old enough and simple enough to be just a blog that you write in markup that is nearly unbreakable. It uses textile markup which is very similar to markdown (and IMO a bit better for the web). I really like it.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 8:15 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Just spent about 2 hours setting up Anchor, which seems like it will meet my needs well. It's stripped down to the basics, has an easy install, and theming was pretty straightforward.

Please keep the suggestions coming if you have them, as I'm not 100% convinced that Anchor is going to be my final choice (we'll see how smoothly the import of old content from wordpress goes). So far, so good, though. Thanks, all!
posted by chrisamiller at 11:30 PM on October 6, 2013

I was coming here to me to mention Habari as well. It's a simple solid system.

I didn't know RandyWalker was a Mefite. :)
posted by annathea at 4:56 AM on October 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Just wanted to note that you don't need rails hosting for a Jekyll site since you generate static HTML and CSS from your machine. (so you only need ruby locally)
posted by wolfr at 1:53 PM on October 13, 2013 [2 favorites]

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