Last time, I setup Pico and Grav on a Linux server. Now that I have a working installation of both Pico and Grav, it occurs to me: Now what?
I haven’t tested their capabilities extensively, but of the two platforms, I would say that Grav probably has more features and more support. It’s closer to what a WordPress user might expect to see in a blog. It has plugins and themes and an administration panel. It would probably be safer to go with that one. On the other hand, it looks bigger.
Pico, on the other hand, appears perfectly capable. It just doesn’t do very much, and whatever functionality I want it to have I will probably have to roll my own. You might think I’d throw it out immediately, but I’m rather fond of “minimalist” solutions as a general rule of thumb.
But before I decide on one of these, or reject them and pick something else, I should probably figure out what I actually want to accomplish with them.
It occurred to me today (just after noon on Sunday the 11th, just for the record) that I may not actually need a full-blown “blogging” platform for a majority of the content on this new theoretical site.
A large portion of the content is just going to be an archival copy of content from a lot of other disparate places. For example, all my witty banter about local politics in 2006, back when politics was still fun to talk about. Those posts do not need any kind of comment functionality, for example. They just need a static page.
It makes me wonder if I shouldn’t simply convert all my old stuff into a directory structure of static HTML. It would certainly make it fast to serve up that content.
Then again, I’d want to surround all of that old content with links to my new content. And I’d want to provide a way to search all of that old content. I doubt it would be easy to search static HTML pages. It also goes against my stated goal of working from plain text flat files.
Hrm, he says, trailing off in thought.
In any case, most of the “blogging” features of the web site will only be used for current content. Posting new posts to the front page, pushing them out to RSS feeds, maintaining comments, and so forth. Those are the features that readers who follow the blog on a daily basis will be using.
Readers who have never heard of me, but arrived at my site via. Google search aren’t going to utilize any “blogging” features. They’re just going to read the page and then leave, or possibly bookmark the page for later, or possibly become dazzled and add the RSS feed to their reader. For those people, the pages need not be very dynamic. Unless they become enraged by what I wrote and feel compelled to yell at me in the comments. But I’m a big fan of cutting off comments on posts after a few weeks anyway.
What does it all mean? I don’t know. I’m just throwing thoughts out there and writing them down. Eventually all of the thoughts will align together like puzzle pieces in a way that suggests a good solution.
So what have we learned after this brainstorming session?
We learned that I might need two different solutions: One for the “archived” content, and one for the “current” content. Which suggests that eventually a repeatable process will be needed to move current content into the archive. Can the same platform be used for both? I don’t know.
We learned that the archived content doesn’t need a comment system, although it will need a system to display archived comments.
I didn’t mention this, but I haven’t yet examined the commenting functionality of Pico or Grav. It’s quite possible neither have any such feature built-in, and require plugins to add it.
It’s really hard to set aside the feeling that it would be far simpler to write my own content platform than to find another one to fit my goals. But I’ve been down that road before and I vowed never to do it again.
Miscellaneous notes to keep in mind for the future: If the content exists in a file structure as flat files, of course I will want to use Git for version control because of course I will. Where should that repository exist? On the web host?
For now I think I will try some experimental posts in Pico and Grav just to see how hard it is to post in those platforms at a baseline level.
I have just learned about another flat-file CMS called Kirby CMS. It sounds neat. I’ve also seen references to something called HTMLy and Dropplets. I’m putting them on the list to evaluate. (Although I can tell you right now that Dropplets isn’t going to get very far if the home page is a Github repository.)