The move to Statamic

History:

Since running my own sites, I’ve been using several techniques to keep the site running.

In 1996 when I started having my own site just HTML with javascript, in 1997 I started toying around with some vanilla PHP sites and in 2001 I put up some sites with phpNuke. In 2003 I started using Drupal and in 2005 I settled with Wordpress.

Using Wordpress for a blog/simple site felt better than using something like Drupal. Wordpress was good at not getting (too much) in the way when writing content and setting up your site.

On the other hand: Every time I had to change something on the site(this happened mostly during one of the frequent security-updates) it felt like things could and should be easier…

No-DB CMS

I’ve been looking at a lot of different CMS’es, but most of them had the same problems and needed frequent database backups to prevent losing my blogging history. Then some No-DB CMS-es got my attention.

Jekyll and Octopress

I started looking at Jekyll and then stumbled upon Octopress. I converted my Wordpress posts to markdown with the ExitWP script and pulled them into Octopress. I styled the site, created and modified several plugins and all was ready to put live… But I didn’t.

It had a lot of stuff I liked:

  • Compass generation of stylesheets
  • Use of files-only system:
    • Easy versioning with Git
    • Easy deployment
    • Easy updating of the system software

Some other things held me back in eventually using it and pushing the system live:

  • It needed a ruby system(or had to use something as github pages) to generate the files (I do like Ruby, but I don’t like the extra step to generate the html files (Yes, I know you can automate this, but it needs to be a SIMPLE system that doesn’t get in the way))
  • I need access to a system that can access my server to update and add posts, because there is no interface to add or modify stuff. (This one is both positive(security) and negative (ease of use) and the negative won in this case.)

Laravel Kudos

I started thinking on what I’d like to see in a system to use it:

  • It had to run on my Linode VPS with Apache and PHP, without me adding some obscure unmanagable extra server
  • It had to be filebased and Markdown files are a must, so I can edit them with Mou, like I do with all notes/texts I write.

While looking at Lavarel, I came across the Kudos project by Ian Landsman. I really liked the way it worked and was still considering to rewrite the Octopress site to Kudos.

Statamic

Base system

While still thinking about picking this up sometime, I saw the release of Statamic in my timeline on the 20th of june. When looking at their site, I thought: "This could very well be what I was looking for!".

Within 10 minutes I bought a personal license( Hey, what’s $19,- for quality software!) for this blog and started tweaking the system to work how I want it to work.

Creating pages and pages with listings of items/posts is easy and the system works with you instead of against you. That’s quite a nice experience after using more complex systems (like Wordpress and Drupal) for websites comparable with the complexity of this blog!

Theming and styling the system is even more fun !

Start building off of the "Wild-London" theme that’s included, of just start with a framework like Zurb Foundation 3 or InuitCSS add your layouts, style your content with some templates and mix-in some partials and voila!

The building of the system is great, but the included admin interface that can be enabled eases creating and modifying your content in a way that you don’t get frustrated in writing or updating a post on your site.

Oh and the guys(Mubashar Iqbal & Jack McDade) creating the system have loads of things that will be added and are very swift in supporting their customers.

AddOns / Plugins

Because the system is just released, I ported and modified some of my plugins that I used for Octopress and added them to github for everyone to use.

FancyBox2 Image Lightbox

I like to be able to see bigger images in a lightbox on other sites and that’s exactly what I use on mine too. I’m using the nice FancyBox2; read the licensing when considering commercial use.

You can find the Fancybox addon for Statamic here.

Random Flickr badge images

I tend to place a lot of pictures on Flickr and like a way to display 9 random images in the sidebar. That’s exactly what this addon does. Just client-side with JS, so no cache is needed.

You can find the Random Flickr Badge addon for Statamic here.

Highlight.js Code Highlighting

Because most of the posts are technical and contain somesort of code or commands, I feel obliged to my readers to display the code in the best way: Color Coded. Highlight.js does a great job with that client-side, so I’ve added that in an addon.

You can find the Highlight.js Code Highlighting addon for Statamic here.

Tweets: displays latest tweets

I like to show the last tweets on my pages too. I rewrote some of the octopress stuff earlier and liked that better than the included twitter addon from Statamic, so I ported mine to Statamic.

You can find the Tweets addon for Statamic here.

Dynamic Sitemap generator

You can use a semi-dynamic way to generate the sitemap, like Eric Barnes explains in his post on "Statamic Sitemap".

I like it a bit more dynamic though; It needs to fetch all non-hidden pages and add a changefreq and priority to it that is a bit more flexible:

  • changefreq based on the last modification date; the longer untouched, the longer the changefreq
  • The priority based on folder/pagetype or even use a standard that can be overridden in the page YAML.

Because of my health, it’s a work in progress right now. I’ll add an extra post once it’s ready.

When it’s ready, You can find the Dynamic Sitemap addon for Statamic here.