Moving from Wordpress to Octopress

There is no doubt that Wordpress is a wonderful blogging system. But being a dynamically generated website, all the nightmares of scripting languages kick in. Patches come regularly to Wordpress and until you login and update, it keeps nagging you inside and ruins your happiness.

There is an alternative - hosting on wordpress.com directly. But not only does it cost unnecessary money (I already have a shared hosting account), it is also severely limited by what you can run on it - no plugins or themes or custom javascript other than what is provided.

I manage several WP blogs now, and for a long while I have been looking forward to moving to a static blog generation system. After all, the only dynamic part of a blog is the comments and I anyway outsource it to Disqus.

I looked at Python blog generators first - because such frameworks are often extended by using the same language as the framework itself, and I am most comfortable with Python. I looked at Pyblosxom and Hyde. Not quite satisfied with the current state of these, I looked at generators in other languages.

Github has popularized Jekyll a lot, so I looked at that first. While it was great, it still required you to write a decent blog theme from scratch. And then I discovered Octopress. This used Jekyll, but came with a standard theme which looked good and was also well designed for mobile. All these frameworks use Ruby and since I was anyway picking up the language, it wasn’t so bad.

I exported the data from wordpress using its own export tool, and then converted it to Jekyll using the exitwp tool which converted wordpress’ html source to markdown format. For a Jekyll utility, amusingly exitwp is written in Python and makes you install a bunch of python libraries to work.

Some layout tweaks here and there and some additonal sidebar content later, my new blog is ready!

The only gripe in this whole process is that many of the images were broken. Wordpress used to upload images into its own uploads directory. I could have copied that directory and fixed my problem, but I wanted a clean break from wordpress so bad, that I decided to move the images to a common blog images directory. I used a quick and dirty perl script to fix the links, but I suspect I will still be finding out some image 404s.

Till then, with static html out there on my blog, some peace of mind.

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