So I have finally overcome my laziness and finished this site. The idea for a personal standalone blog came to me almost a year ago when I bought this domain. Now at last I've made something that I'm not very ashamed to show others.
I pursued a few reasons when I decided to move from cozy and curated Wordpress/Blogger-like environment into the wild. Primarily, I want to be able to prepare posts using an editor instead of a browser. Second, I want my articles to be stored as files rather than some database entries. Finally, managing your stuff personally gives you much more freedom in manipulating it.
For now, I migrated some of the articles from my previous blog. Eventually I'll move them all and, of course, will write new articles (my stash of ideas is full as ever). I sincerely hope you will enjoy this blog and will come here from time to time.
Software behind Bytopia
OpenShift by RedHat is a free Platform as a Service solution that supports many application servers for different languages as well as allows you to experiment with frameworks not yet supported. Right now I use it just as a free hosting for website and Juvia (see below) but my plans include OpenShift as a cloud platform for a more complex web application.
Static is a simple static blog generator written by Nurullah Akkaya in Clojure. I chose this exact blog generator instead of Jekyll and the like for the following reasons:
- Static supports generation from org-mode files.
- It uses Emacs for transforming org-files into HTML. Confusing at first, this method is very elegant and effective. For instance, I get code highlighting for free — Emacs highlights code in resulting HTML itself.
- It is written in Clojure, so it was very easy for me to add some extra functionality. Also Hiccup (generates HTML from Clojure data structures) is used for templating which almost entirely reduces the pain of writing HTML.
- Static is very small — only 400 SLOC, so I was able to comprehend its codebase in one evening.
Emacs and org-mode
org-mode is a wonderful tool for taking notes, scheduling tasks and events and writing. The text you enter can be easily structured and navigated, special tags allow embedding code that is automatically highlighted in the end. Emacs is simply the best text editor, nuff said.
Comments are managed by Juvia — GPL-licensed commenting server. It is somewhat similar to Disqus but you need to host it yourself. My Juvia instance runs on OpenShift as well. Not much else to say here except that Juvia is very AJAX-oriented, has a nice admin panel, supports gravatars, doesn't require registration to comment (a huge advantage over Disqus!) and allows Markdown in comments.