As the title says… I’ve failed to compile my website on the last two PCs I’ve attempted. It is still working on my old laptop, but that’s about to celebrate its seventh birthday. Thankfully, it’s still going strong (the 2015-era Macbook Pro is the perfect laptop, after all), but I need to be able to create my website on any PC.
As Florens argued, SSGs aren’t really simple in the slightest – they’re “tools made for developers by developers”. While I would count myself a half-decent Jekyll developer (which means I’m OK with HTML, CSS, the Liquid templating language and the concept of Bundler and Ruby gems), I don’t know the first thing about Ruby itself, which is what Jekyll is built on. There’s only so far Googling command line error messages will get you. So, I’ve dutifully raised a ticket for the latest problem and resolved to move on.
What to choose, though? Bearing in mind the problems I’ve had with Jekyll – and what I like about it – it needs to be:
- either dependency-free or dependably dependant on something stable and relatively “simple” like PHP
- quick to compile a site (if it needs to compile at all)
- relatively easy to style and control what it outputs
- cheap to host
- fast and secure
- (possibly) able to handle some of the features I’ve wrangled out of Jekyll, such as comments and webmentions
- able to import Markdown posts from Jekyll
I think that leaves me with three options:
- Hugo. Yes, it’s another SSG. But it has no dependencies and, unlike Jekyll, it compiles instantly. Downsides: I don’t know if I’d be able to get comments and webmentions working, and I hated its templating language and general fussiness the first time I used it.
- WordPress. A return to my 2008 blogging roots! The good – it works anywhere with PHP and deals with any dependencies. Millions of features – brilliant comments out of the box and a webmention plugin. Solid RSS citizen. A proper visual editor that you can use anywhere with a web browser. I still kind of know how it works, I think. The downsides: Gutenberg and blocks. Getting it to output exactly what I want is difficult – there’s an extra layer between intention and the site itself; something unknowable. It’s slower than a static site and a lot more hackable. I could run it locally and generate a static site, though…
- Kirby. A sort of lightweight WordPress, perhaps? It enjoys the same PHP advantages, and I really like the editor. It’s the system I know least of all, but it has good documentation and seems a lot clearer then WordPress. A flat file CMS, so not sure how it would (or could) handle comments. From memory, deals in Markdown files.
I think that whatever CMS I choose, importing my 700-odd posts, links and notes will prove a bracing challenge. I don’t really have the time for a big “project”, so I expect this will be done in stages – I might even have to use a theme template to start with :-(
Anyway – any ideas or thoughts gratefully received.