I’ve 99% made the decision to move away from Jekyll to either WordPress or Kirby – which explains why I haven’t been posting much recently. I’m currently erring towards Kirby – reasons below.
Why move from my Jekyll setup?
I’m sure you’ll allow this is all very fucking impressive. But it’s dependent on many things:
- Forestry CMS
- Netlify webmention plugin
jekyll-get-jsonJekyll plugin to display incoming webmentions
- Nelify forms for comment forms
- Airtable to store comments
- An Airtable plugin I wrote (or rather, copied and pasted) which is dependent on two Ruby gems
- Zapier to link Netlify forms and Airtable and send confirmation emails to commenters
- IFTTT to autopost to Mastodon
- Netlify build hooks to fire site builds whenever I like
- Netlify for Github deploys
- Netlify itself
- Github itself
- …and so on
I’m really happy with how this all works, but it’s starting to creak. Forestry is being sunsetted,
jekyll-get-json is returning warnings when the site is built and Airtable is moving to a new authentication system. It also has a really annoying API where it’s impossible to return more than 100 results from a table.
It’s a bit like work
My website has been a hobby for years, and it is satisfying when you rig up a system that actually works. Until it gets frustrating. Recently, webmention.app went down (another dependency) due to a Vercel (another indirect dependency) pricing change. This meant my outgoing webmentions (and those of several other people) just stopped working.
Thankfully, Netlify offers a webmention integration (for how long?) that works a treat. But there’s minimal documentation and it took me a few hours work to get it up and running. This was frustrating more than anything else.
I’m also mindful of how self-referential this makes my website; often, I’m posting about running a static website that does dynamic things. I always add a but you’d be better off using WordPress – which is, well, true.
It’s not indieweb
Netlify, Vercel, Github, Airtable… although you could run a simple static site on Jekyll, an FTP client and cheap hosting, the chances are you’re using one of the big providers and Github for deployment. The static/JAMstack world is largely VC-funded, west-coast tech, or owned by Microsoft. It is free, and very convenient, but it’s not indieweb in the same way as running a self-hosted CMS on a small provider is.
What do I need/want from the new setup?
- A CMS
- A monolithic service, resulting in
- Fewer dependencies, resulting in
- More time to not write about setting up the website
Would like to haves
- Guaranteed speed and security of static
- Ease of creating themes/listings/templates the way I want them
- Webmentions (in and out)
- Cheap (free if possible)
- Autoposting to Mastodon and micro.blog
How to prioritise these? Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been exprimenting with WordPress and Kirby. The options are:
- Just meeting the must haves. I think I’d go with WordPress run as a static site. And to do that, I’d use HardyPress. Partly because it makes it very simple, partly because I could really hack at WordPress because the backend would never be exposed, and partly because it’d cost me €4/month. Downsides: a dependency on HardyPress itself and HardyPress is run on AWS. Theming with WordPress. No comments or webmentions.
- Full on indieweb blogging: categories, tags, crossposting, comments and webmentions. This is probably a standard WordPress installation using the indieweb plugins. I have looked into running WordPress statically with the plugins, but there’s no way to do it. If I was using standard WordPress, I’d pay for good hosting, probably Fused at $30/month. Downsides: probably slower, slight concern over security, theming with WordPress. Expensive.
- Possible crossposting, comments and webmentions with Kirby. The single thing about Jekyll I would miss most is Liquid, and how easy it makes it to create templates and data types exactly as you want them. The single thing I most dislike about WordPress is its templating, and the sense there’s always something at a level you don’t have control over. Kirby, on the other hand, is direct, flexible and clear. It also uses files instead of a database, so it’s certainly quicker than WordPress, and probably more secure – if only because it’s not used as much. Downsides: I’m not sure how good the comments and webmention plugins are, and they’re not “official”, so possibly more fragile than WordPress’s. Hosting might be more than €4/month. Importing Jekyll posts not as easy as WordPress. £87 one-off license fee.
At the moment, I think it’ll be Kirby. Now to find the time to make the switch. I could do it in stages, just getting a barebones site up and running first.