anh.do

Just a computer geek alternating his life between Hà Nội and Sài Gòn.

© 2010-2019 Anh Do.

Reviving My Blog

February 22nd, 2019 · 2 min read

My first online presence was back in 2005 in the form of a WordPress blog. Taking advantage of WordPress’ extensibility, I wrote a bunch of plugins to customize the self-hosted blog to suit my need. One of them was even picked up by Mashable and featured there twice. Some enjoyed it so much that they asked to take over the project when I stopped maintaining it.

For a short while in 2006, I decided to turn my blog into a full-fledged site powered by a proper CMS called Textpattern. I added a few sections to the site to showcase my projects: some WordPress plugins, PHP scripts, and even Windows freeware.

Then came the new tumblelogging trend with the launch of Tumblr in 2007. I found the concept of sharing interesting links and photos I came across strangely appealing and used Tumblr’s super-useful bookmarklet extensively on my newly created tumblelog. Another migration was in order: I moved my main site from Textpattern to Chyrp, a now-defunct microblogging engine made by a single developer. Unlike Tumblr, Chyrp let me play around with different post formats, customizations, theming, and all that. It was fun while it lasted; upon entering university and later getting full time employment, I had much less time maintaining both sites and stopped blogging altogether.

Fast forward to 2016, Medium was all the rage. While not being as generous as Tumblr (free custom domain for everyone), Medium let me set up a “publication” and pointed my domain to it. I moved some of my old writings there and wrote one whole new blog post.

The year is 2019. Everything changes. Medium becomes much nastier. Tumblr aggressively cleans up its platform. I no longer see them as viable choices to keep my personal site safe and sound. At the same time, endlessly customizing a blog no longer interests me as before. That leaves me with a simple choice: Go for a static site. I just need to focus on my writing and keep the amount of (unnecessary) tinkering to a minimum.

My blog is now powered by Jekyll and hosted on Netlify. All blog posts are written in Markdown and pushed to a Git repository on GitLab. Changes are picked up, built, and deployed instantly by Netlify. If I want some fancy previews, I can use a separate branch for new blog posts and preview them privately before merging into master. It sounds much more complicated than, say, Medium or WordPress’ post editor, but I enjoy the total control I have. One downside thus far: It isn’t easy to blog on the go due to the lack of a native app. I can in theory set up an intricate system of Git client and Linux shell on my iPhone/iPad as a workaround, but it’s the story for another day.

For now, let’s end this post with a humble goal: Here’s hoping I’ll be able to write at least 12 blog posts in 2019.