Moving from WordPress to Jekyll

As of today, Archon Digital is now running on Jekyll and is being hosted on Github Pages. Everything seems to work fine and I’m happy the transition went really well considering I was migrating in between breaks, meetings, at night and over the weekend. The original idea was only to migrate the old /v5/ parts of the site but after spending time reading Jekyll’s documentation, I decided to move everything over.

The idea to move started from when I wrote on finding out how to turn an old WordPress install into a static site. You see, Archon Digital was at that time a site running two WordPress installations, the main one on the root of the domain archondigital.com which was the most updated one and the older one under archondigital.com/v5 that had all the old plugins and posts that I’ve long since forgotten about. I wanted to turn the old one to a purely static site to save me the time of having to bother logging in and updating WordPress and its old plugins every time there is a new release.

Enter Jekyll. Jekyll is a very simple, “blog aware”, static site generator on Ruby, Liquid templating and YAML which I find flexible enough to handle all the requirements of this site. I quickly found out that it was the easiest way to go about the migration to generate all the static files, but unfortunately, I didn’t have time to do the migration then. It was only until a week ago when I decided to give it a go, but this time for the entire site. The process took me a few days since I had to go through my old posts to clean up the YAML front matter that was being generated by the Jekyll export from my old WordPress installation. I still need to go through all my old posts to further clean up.

WHY DITCH WORDPRESS?

The following are the main reasons why I had to ditch WordPress on this website:

  1. Learning. Learning has always been the main reason why I started blogging in the first place. My journey with blogging began with Blogger, from Pyra Labs days, and with WordPress from 0.72 to present. My role over the years has evolved into more that just a being frontend designer or theme developer. It has reached the point where using WordPress for my personal site is no longer something that can teach me anything new.
  2. Markdown. I’ve been fascinated with using Markdown and find myself using it for everything, from taking down notes, to drafting my posts offline on my phone or tablet and for almost anything that involves writing.
  3. Sublime. I prefer to write stuff and code using Sublime. But I also use iA Writer and Evernote on my iPhone and iPad. I’d want to be able to write about anything using just about any app that was available to me.
  4. Github. Github pages is free and amazingly fast. It also allows for version control and encourages me to do more useful and creative stuff. I also find myself more productive when on Github and treat it as my social network compared to wasting time on Twitter and Facebook.
  5. Liquid. I’ve been using Mixture.io on some of my projects and that was where I ran into using Liquid as a templating language. I also intend to publish a boilerplate for Mixture that would work for Jekyll and Foundation 5. I seriously considered using Mixture instead of Jekyll at some point since I found their “collections” feature more stable from what Jekyll offers, but I also wanted to have a “self-hosted” or a Github pages powered site that made use of Jekyll.
  6. Future plans. I want to create my own open source CMS project similar to Statamic, but for free, and one that runs on Node.js and one that can work as either a flat file CMS or on a lightweight or noSQL database.

SAYONARA WORDPRESS?

No, not really. I’m letting go of WordPress just on this site and would still actively use it for the majority of my ongoing and upcoming projects. My clients and endusers of projects that I am involved with are more comfortable in using WordPress as their CMS and would not think of using anything else (except for Drupal, in some cases) for managing their content.

Working with WordPress has been a great learning experience for me these past few years and it has been very instrumental in the advancement of my career. I learned HTML in the late 90’s while in school, but only started to delve into serious web design and development in 2003 while working as a graphic designer. My role has since evolved from a being just a graphic designer for print, to frontend designer/developer and now to technical lead of projects running on various open source applications.

I’ve created different types of implementations for WordPress over the years and even used it for the government’s Institutional Memory and main government portal. There was also a crude email marketing app that I did that ran on WordPress at some point and I once even made a digital signage system using WordPress in my previous work (too bad the link no longer works).

It would be great to find out what you think of the new version of this site, do feel free to comment below.

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