Internal Meta-Monologue

August 13

Okay, so I have brought the first incarnation of b3 to a point where it can sustain blogging as far as I need it. There are still some things that are on my to-do list that I want to do, but I can’t actually bring myself to make progress on any of them.

Therefore I’m writing this document as a sort-of manifesto which shall dictate my future course of action vis-à-vis this blog and the software that makes it tick.

b3 hasn’t actually turned out to be what I intended for it to become. After a day or two of procrastinating, I’ve pulled together my thoughts on what went wrong and how will I fix it.

In a recent email to an inspiration for this blog, I described the workflow used by most other technical bloggers nowadays: the post gets written, the site gets rendered via a static site generator such as Jekyll, and the result gets checked into a Git repo and pushed to deploy. This approach works for many, but it also involves a lot of friction which is especially noticable when it comes to publishing smaller pieces of content, e.g., microblogs or linklogs. I’ve found this friction is also enough to cause me to abandon any of my online writing efforts soon after getting the initial sketch up, as it is starting to happen now as well.

Ergo I needed a model which imposed less friction, such as the one used by fully dynamic CMSes, for instance, Wordpress. The idea that the content is published directly and immediately, as well as the ability to have a nice instant preview and other such functionality, makes for a pretty low-friction model, which is why some technical bloggers continue to use Wordpress even for new blogging efforts.

On the other hand, most such CMSes have their deficiencies: they’re often quite heavyweight, and under most configurations every request creates a hit to the database. I wish to have the posts themselves be fully static and the CMS itself to have the absolute minimum of code to implement this.

Taking all of this into account, some adept and experienced[1] readers might notice that what I strive for is similar to what’s provided by Movable Type. I really like Movable Type in principle, especially the older versions (1.1 and thereabouts), but unfortunately, I can’t use Movable Type itself since it is quite expensive and also it doesn’t align well with my philosophy of using open-source software where at all possible. Besides, I probably wouldn’t be actually able to use version 1.1 in any legal manner now.

It seems to me that implementing what I consider to be a simple CMS can’t be too difficult, so my current stance is that I’m going to reimplement Movable Type by myself. The next version of b3 is intended to be a static-site generator whose primary interface is the browser; basically the best of both Wordpress and Movable Type.[2]

For you, the reader, little will change. Actually, it’s my goal for nothing to change as of now—the major improvement is for me as the writer. In the future this system might allow me to add more dynamic features to the site , but it might be too early to speculate about that.

I do intend to continue developing b3 in the open, so in the unlikely case you’re seeking a CMS for use of your own and are not repulsed by the use of PHP, even though I’ll excuse it as being the more pragmatic choice for me, perhaps I might interest you in trying b3 out.