Posting regularly on blog: WordPress or hugo does the tooling matters?

I have been running this blog since 2007 19 July 2007 to be precise, during this long timeframe the blog has seen its own life-cycle. Started on shared hosting to moving on my server to moving from one type of WordPress instance to another. During this entire time, it has been a massively rewarding experience to learn. But guess what I have not even posted 100 blog posts in total. Averaging around 7 blog posts a year. Not even making it to post once a month. However, when I look around at my contemporaries, people have made massive blog empires and what not. Sometimes I used to sit back and wonder what exactly is the reason for such difference in dynamics.

Along with this around 2013-2014 static site generators started making a lot of noise. Around this time I started working with markdown and naturally I gravitated towards the static site generators. This got me thinking, and I started working with the likes of Jekyll and mkdocs. Working on various sub sites, but never got to a point of replacing my blog with a static site generator. Call it history, call it legacy, call it tech burden. the stack has been with me for so long it’s very hard to do things from start. Sometimes along the lines office took over on priorities list and blog somehow went in the shadows. Tech world has been making continuous progress on the other side.

2019 bought me face to face with hugo and I was looking for a way to get back in the blog posting side. So I said lets start from scratch and started a sub domain https://til.anantshri.info Today I have ended that experiment and merged both blog and til sub-domain to blog sub-domain itself. This blog will outline my logics and reasonings around not using Hugo for my blog but building a new project entirely using hugo and working on another project to convert a WordPress website to Hugo website.

But first the question from the title. Is Hugo or WordPress a boon or hinderance in blogging. The brief answer is it simply doesn’t matter. Longer answer has to go on deeper levels. However, it’s also one of those things where ideally “just use what works best in the specific scenario and focus on work”. While I made til I was trying to see if that triggers an increase in my posting habits. However, things changed little I posted a few and then it simply became another dead project of mine along with a larger set of more dead projects.

With my experiments, I have reached a few observations:

  1. WordPress works impressively well when you are the only one dealing with it and you are not afraid to go under the hood. 2019 while I as tweaking with Hugo on til I created a fully working timeline for myself on main website.

  2. Things get tricky if you want to involve others in the mix and allow others access to the backend. Being a paranoid person, this has resulted in much larger failures at points in the past. Example my collaboration attempts with codevigilant failed as the process to access backend was way too complicated for my friends.

  3. Hugo on the other side is an impressive piece of software which deals with a massive amount of data and that’s where the strength of Hugo was for me. Hacking Archives of India would not have been a straightforward job without Hugo.

  4. I am working on another project of mine to convert WordPress to Hugo, as that project is also something that’s data heavy.

  5. I have also used a few other static site generators and the most exciting for me has been MkDocs. Mkdocs allows you to work on building knowledge-bases and I still don’t see Hugo doing a very good job at it and I would stick with mkdocs or go for mdbook as the successor of mkdocs if I can customize mdbook in similar manner as mkdocs. I have gone down the rabbit hole in mkdocs and build my custom theme mkdocs-tamerdocs when I get such control over mdbook might switch over to it.

  6. Sharing access of static site generator environment is as simple or sharing a git repository and you don’t have to worry about access control or server access.

  7. messing around and going back in time is easier with static site generators because of non existing database anomalies. However, that needs a cautious approach of always saving your work via it commits.

  8. A lot of times when you writing or want to work on the content, you don’t want to worry about other things. It works both ways. For me static site generators give me more distraction coz I know I can switch things easily so end up wasting more time on those.

  9. The plugin ecosystem within wordpress and basics clearly sorted for blogging makes it a much more easy-to-use system. SEO and similar activities are still leaps and bounds ahead in WordPress.

  10. I don’t know if people have realized this, but Hacking Archives of India is totally JavaScript free, which is something I would have an extremely hard time doing in wordpress.

  11. Static site generators have opened an entire world of possibilities and equally enormous set of limitation on those possibilities, but the result is that I have more tools in my toolkit to decide from and the variations end up helping me.

So summarizing it all the conclusions are:

  1. Tooling doesn’t matter motivation matters for posting regularly.

  2. Use “what works best for you in that specific scenario”. Not what works best for someone online or someone told you so.

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