Blogging with Jekyll + Github and Medium vs other platforms.

Reasons I chose Jekyll+Github and Medium for blogging after comparing the best blogging platforms.

Motive

That triggered me to start looking into blogging platforms. I needed something that had most of the following.

  • Clean, minimal interface
  • Standard (markdown) or natural writing grammar
  • Focus on content
  • Scalability and manageability
  • Minimal hosting fee
  • Analytics
  • Commenting or discussion platform (disqus)
  • Discoverability of content by readers
  • Categorical content grouping or collections

The Shortlist

I narrowed the choices down to the following, based on immediate appeal, personal taste & need, community and support.

Platforms

  • Roon
  • Svbtle
  • Medium
  • Ghost
  • Jekyll on Github Pages

Roon

Roon is a modern blogging platform from a 2-person team. It is very appealing and minimal. They have some noticable differentiators like the iPhone app.

PROS

  • Nice distraction-free writing interface
  • iOS App available
  • Free to get started
  • Multiple blogs

CONS

  • Seems like a slim adoption rate
  • Small community of users
  • Feels like a side project
  • Minimal themes and template styles
  • Analytics and Custom domains are paid and not available yet

Svbtle

Svbtle started out as a closed platform on invite-only. Felt very elitist when they came out, without clarity on intended author-bar. Some authors were more known than others. The platform has recently opened up to everyone. The motives behind that are unclear and feels like the result of being struck-down.

PROS

  • Beautiful, minimal interface
  • Markdown support
  • Custom Domains (free feature)
  • Analytics (free feature)
  • Draft vs Published list view
  • Simple, intuitive image embed feature
  • Inline support for markdown syntax

CONS

  • Lack of commenting platform support (maybe a plus, based on perspective).
  • Not easy to find content or content groupings.
  • Kudos system is different and abstract.
  • The platform was closed-off until early this year. This need to join the race, getting back to ground zero from being elitist is a turn-off, atleast for me.
  • Community seems lean and the design feel is overly sterile.
  • All markdown without instant preview, lacks the visual feedback for good storytelling.
  • Custom domain is pseudo-freedom, since your content is all under the svbtle banner.

Medium

This is from the makers of Twitter. It has a classy, modern look and with the added gorgeous appeal of the banner images. The incredible content discovery method lets your blog article to be submitted into multiple collections. That helps with your article being discovered and read, by a large audience.

PROS

  • Beautiful “medium” to showcase content
  • Can reach a large audience
  • Content can be added into one or more collections
  • Great SEO
  • Functional & beautiful writing interface
  • Use existing twitter account
  • Perfect secondary blog (complements primary platform)
  • Well-integrated with twitter
  • Inline commenting

CONS

  • Basic analytics of view statistics
  • Cannot use Google Analytics code
  • No custom domain usage other than redirect

Ghost

This blogging platform has a lot of muscle and support behind them. It is probably the most exciting one out there. You can take the platform and host it yourself (free) or use their hosting service ($5).

PROS

  • Focused on blogging and content
  • Beautiful interface
  • Markdown support
  • Appeals to both consumers and businesses
  • Great analytics tools and dashboard
  • Free to use the open source package
  • Themes
  • Custom Domains

CONS

  • For less-techy folks, it costs $5 per month
  • Post editor is not silky smooth
  • My appfog service doesn’t support it yet

I am enamored by the promise and potential that this platform and service brings. I started with this, took it for a test drive, tried to get it working with my appfog account, hit snags, lost time and gave up!, for now. This is the most promising platform with a lot of support behind it and I do see myself returning to this sometime in the near future.


Jekyll on Github

While in the market for a blogging environment, I was inspired by Joshua’s post. The combination of Jekyll static site generation, with poole helper and github hosting was simple and reliable off-the-bat. I use sublimetext or MouApp for content editing and github app for pushing my changes up.

PROS

  • Static pages written in markdown.
  • Github commit tracking. Pixelated contributions chart looks busy.
  • Hosting is free.
  • Source control is part of workflow. Usually, I would commit code to github or bitbucket and deploy to appfog.

CONS

  • Not shiny and glamorous like the others. It can be, depending on the markdown editor you use.
  • Poole only has two themes, for now. They can be subtle modifications like swapping accent color.

    Thirumalaa (Sri-ni)vas

    Written by

    Focused on the Learn-Tinker-Build-Teach loop. http://sri-ni.github.io