Settling on a content system

Around the time that I started developing this site I had started reading more about content systems that would generate static sites (as opposed to a database driven CMS). After a couple days of research I settled on Stacey, a brilliantly simple PHP-based system that builds pages on the fly using markdown-parsed source files. After familiarizing myself with the templating language I got to work creating my theme and finished that a week or so later. I was fairly happy with the ease of it and how I could exercise my obsessive need for file structure organization. It was easy to include additional stylesheets or javascript on any given page, which I knew I would need for any code demos I wanted to post.

Despite these things I was irked that there was no good way to categorize posts. I wanted to be able to separate my blog posts from my code experiments and projects. I wanted to be able to have an RSS feed that would only contain two of those three categories. Without a good deal of additional coding, Stacey wasn’t going to be able to offer me that. Retrospectively, I see that I should have defined some of those things for myself ahead of time so that I didn’t essentially finish building my site and then realize it wasn’t quite what I needed.

In any case, something else came along at just the right time. Octopress! The fantastic piece of work by Brandon Mathis walks the perfect line between being easy to use with a lot of features out of the box and maintaining a high level of customizability. I was able to maintain everything I loved about Stacey and gain those few extra additional features, and that made it worth learning another theme framework literally days before I was going to put the site up.

This is why it’s hot

  • Github Hosting: It’s extremely easy to set this up with Octopress, and built in
  • A certain amount of automation for creating posts is handled by a Rakefile
  • Supports Compass for compiling stylesheets (and why wouldn’t it)
  • Easy Rake command for compiling site in realtime for development (love this)
  • Jekyll + Liquid for templating is gorgeous and dead simple
  • Customizable to no end - I basically started a theme from nothing and cherry-picked features from the stock theme

Check out Octopress on its official site or fork it on Github. For some more thoughts on Octopress, check out this post over at Divya Manian’s site (she also just recently launched a redesign running on Octopress).

Edit: I have since regressed to plain old Jekyll since the big update came out. I started to become disenchanted with Octopress after realizing that it was a pain to publish a new post unless I was at my laptop with access to Terminal. Plain old Jekyll is my new jam, and if you need a nice writing environment (that you can publish from, no less), Prose.io is so elegant.