Blogging with Ghost
The Ghost blogging platform is all the rage right now. Getting its start with a kickstarter project which reached $100,00 in the first 48 hours, it has finally released the first version. While the big brother blogging solution, WordPress, uses a semi-outdated language with very outdated practices, Ghost uses a shiny new node.js backend which a sqlite database. On the front end of things, it uses newer HTML5 objects, and has a cleaner admin area. I had a chance to play around with Ghost, and here are my thoughts
Installation was super simple. I used Amazon Web Services (EC2) with a custom AMI that was built by the Ghost Team. I followed the instructions on howtoinstallghost.com and within 5 minutes, I was up and running. To start, it took me a bit to find the admin backend. Without looking at the docs, it was nowhere on the site. I randomly typed /admin into the browser and found the admin console. Once I was in, it was super simple.
Super clean. It has a two pane view that lets you write your blog, and then preview the blog right next to it. While at first distracting, the two pane view let me see my blog post in a pleasing way while the editor still gave me that “typewriter” feeling.
Templating is much easier in Ghost, it is not done with include statements, instead favoring the popular “mustache” tags making things easier to read. There is more of a focus on zen css rather than HTML. The Markdown syntax that popular websites like Github and Reddit have adopted, is super simple to understand, and pretty to look at.
The more and more I play with Ghost, the more I realize they took every measure to make sure this thing looks good. They will sacrifice deep technical integration for a minimalistic platform. However, that brings some downfalls.
I have to be fair on this one. Ghost is not a full blown CMS. It is a blogging platform. It does not have pages, or extensions that turn your blog into a website. It is not supposed to be a website. However, they did start from scratch, using a new language not found everywhere. The tire is the perfect analogy. 30 years ago, the car tire did not have the same compounds/materials and tread designs they have today. In the same way Ghost does not have many essential blogging features needed for ease of use.
If there is one, it is not user friendly to find. Ghost makes you either use a CDN or hotlink images, which is never a good idea. Keeping all of the images in a central place with the blog is a good idea for organization, and Ghost just does not do it right.
I wanted to convert my current WordPress blog to Ghost, so I downloaded their Ghost Exporter for WordPress plugin. After some fighting with the plugin (which was written poorly), I was able to download my WordPress blog into a JSON file…except it did not contain images or fix links. I am going to have to go through my 100 something blog posts and reconvert all of the URLS to the ghost URL scheme. This alone made me want to shutdown my Amazon server and just call it quits.
While the name Ghost is cool sounding, it is almost impossible to search for stuff on Google. Hopefully that will change in the next couple of months as it becomes more popular, but right now, searching “Ghost Templating” brings up Halloween costumes. It was probably the wrong month to release Ghost :).
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Ghost is a pretty blogging platform that is nowhere near ready for primetime. Ghost seems like high school football while WordPress is making the professional dollars, but it is drawing some scouts. For now though, I would not recommend it.