Monday 2013-07-01 17:00 -07:00

from the simplest-but-no-simpler dept.

I am writing up some developer notes on the upgrades I’ve just made to this site. The headline change is that it is now created with Wintersmith. It’s an amazing Open Source, MIT-licensed tool for snapping out small blogs and websites.

This site used to rock another amazing Open Source product, the Concrete5 Content Management System. While I still have mad respect for Concrete5, it began to feel inappropriate for my own site. Why? In the first place, my use and C5’s intended use-case were coming apart. While C5 excels at managing hierarchical content, its support for blog-style rivers of news is currently limited to plugins, the best of which are, as of this writing, all proprietary. From a FOSS perspective, C5 as a blog is a hilariously bad, expensive substitute for WordPress.

But if I wanted WordPress, I’d use WordPress. It wasn’t just a lack of appropriate features in C5 that compelled the switch: Even the features themselves were getting in my way! The countless and profoundly thoughtful niceties of Concrete 5 eventually became as frustrating as they were convenient, because they abstracted away from the parts of the machine that I’m especially talented at charming. In effect, I was throwing out hundreds of hours of training and research, because I could no longer manage my site with the tools on which I am trained.

In other words, the same reasons I choose C5 when I’m creating sites for others – ease-of-use, abstraction, tight fit with intended use-case – are good reasons to avoid it when making my own. Usability is user-relative!

Concrete5 is (still) the first thing I reach for when making a website for someone who doesn’t live in a terminal emulator. But that person is no longer me, if it ever was. I do miss the opportunity to dogfood C5 ideas on my own site first, but that’s what Turnkey Linux appliances are for!

A CMS-based website is like an American SUV with power steering and an automatic transmission and a fur-lined cupholder. But the handling is squishy, and don’t even think about engine braking.

Wintersmith, on the other hand, is a bicycle. On a bicycle, I move through traffic like a fish. SUVs are just so many slow-moving, pampered obstacles.

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