The case for static & Dropbox blogging platforms
It’s that time of the year again. When I realize I’m not blogging as much as I’d want or even enough, making me changing themes, layout, trying out new services and products just to ignite the lost spark of blogging.
This time is static blog generators that caught my attention. I already knew about Jekyll, Markdown, hosting on Github and all, but never actually tried the whole concept. I’ve written a handful of Markdown documents here and there but that’s that.
Instead of Jekyll (which friends use and have used in the past) I stumbled upon calepin.co; a Dropbox static blog generator. And it’s dead-simple — login with your Dropbox account, write Markdown documents, dump them in the respective folder and click Publish. Boom, you’re live.
After doing a quick research I found a couple other Dropbox SBGs (Static Blog Generators) but after using them all I can easily say calepin is the most simple and elegant of them all. I’d highly recommend it.
As I’m still thinking of what should I do with my blog, I couldn’t help but think why one would ever use such a simple tool instead of a more full-blown blogging platform like WordPress, Blogger or even Tumblr.
Thinking of WordPress, yes, it is now indeed more than just a blogging platform — it can do much more; and most importantly it can do all those tasks better than competition (we will always love WordPress!) but I still consider it fairly simple, easy to use and learn. And I have proof for that.
Blogger does a decent job but the overall feeling is a mundande “meh.”
Back to the question: why a Dropbox SBG and not WordPress. Let’s try to go through calepin and see what is up to.
Sidenote: I don’t think calepin and Jekyll (or any other self-hosted SBG) are adressing the same market. Maybe calepin tries to, but at the end of the day, it simply can’t.
Jekyll is much more powerful — and sustainable. For the sake of being brief: Jekyll targets even more at power-geeks, people familiar with terminal, writing markup and having the love for the ability to fully control and customize stuff in a minimalist (eg., there’s no database involved) way. You can also have your own domain. It’s sustainable because you host it at your own repo, with software that even if its development stops it will still work.
On the other hand, calepin provides a subset of what Jekyll can do. You’re semi self-hosted (posts in .md files in your Dropbox folder) thus you can’t view or edit site code and markup either (you cannot change how the blog looks or add an about page), you have the option for custom domain, there is no terminal or Git involved but you still need to know (or learn; it’s easy) Markdown to markup your own posts. All this means you’re a geek. Yes, you are. It’s potentially, though, not sustainable. As a service it might close down, etc.
So, why calepin is still pretty darn awesome?
For all I can say, simplicity. Calepin is extremely dead-simple to learn and use. 100% one-click publishing. Although I can’t see it ever being able to reach mass market — or even be close to it (let’s be honest…), I consider it a really cool platform to experiment on or start a pet project or something.
And that’s what I did.
Being a tech intern in NYC right now — more on that on a follow-up post — I’ve started using it as my “internship and more” journal (as a “front.” The actual use is to write and blog more, I’ve really missed it.) You can find it under the very creative apas.calepin.co and dubbed as “infinite code and beers”.