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This blog is now powered by Pelican

It has been a while since I migrated this blog from Google's Blogger to Pelican, a static web log generator.

Pelican?

I will make this easy for those who write and read blogs made on Wordpress or Blogger. Pelican is a python program that takes as input your content written in plain text, processes it according to the configuration specified by you, and generates all the required HTML for each of your posts, pages and features. The processing step involves taking care of a lot of things like :

  • Generating the CSS by processing the Theme specified by the user
  • Building the structure of the web pages from plain-text documents (written in Markdown/reStructuredText)
  • Organizing the posts, pages and other content so that each resource is correctly addressed by the right URL

Doesn't Blogger do this for us anyway?

Yes, it does. What it doesn't do is allow us to style our blogs using customized themes. I once had to edit a "blogger template" to make it look like what I wanted it to for a Birthday Wish book. Trying to make it float was a nightmare! Lots of Ducktape and I dare not touch the EditHTML button again. Lesson learnt: Blogger doesn't like getting customized much.

Also, Blogger doesn't allow us to host our blogs anywhere else. I felt a little suffocated there. The difference between the time I started my Blogger blog and today is: Now I have my own VPS, I am using and learning to use Git and Github for a lot of things, and I am tired of being in the comfort-zone.

So what is under the hood?

  1. I am using github-pages to host the static web-site generated by pelican. (other cool options: VPS, Dropbox!)
  2. I am using the default 'notmyidea' theme, but I have been looking at other themes and will give a custom look to the blog soon.
  3. The configuration files are version controlled and backed up at this Github repo.
  4. I am using Markdown for structuring the content and I love it!
  5. I am using three categories: Tech, Outdoors, and Misc. The use of tags is going to help readers really pick only what they want to read, as I couldn't convince myself to let the blog not be about everything I do.

How easy was to set all this up?

It could be easier for someone who had prior experience of using static website generators (Jekyll migrators?). It took me a little time to put all the pieces together, using two different configuration files, one for viewing on the local machine, and the other to publish/deploy. I didn't understand when and how to use the relative links setting, and had broken links for a long while. Another time consuming area was migrating the comments on each post. Blogger doesn't have cool "check out" options, and I had to go the long way of porting comments to Disqus first, and then make it fit the new slug and URL structure. But yes, if you're ready to move out of the Blogger/Wordpress comfort zone, I guess it is fair to let Pelican give you that tough time and the thrill of setting up everything yourself.


To end this post, I would say it was fun as well as beneficial to have left Blogger behind. Life is better when your blogs work according to you than you working according to Blogger. :D

The migration will be easier than you think, right now. Let me know if you plan to switch. :)

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