Take no one’s word for it was originally built using Octopress.

Why Octopress

Octopress appealed to my inner geek who really liked the idea of tinkering with code and building a site from the command line.

There are/were other benefits to using Octopress:

  • You don’t rely on an online CMS. All the software producing the site lives on your computer. If you’re using sites like Tumblr or Squarespace, you rely on those sites to remain online and to remain largely the same. If they go offline, or something happens to them, your site is gone. Not so with Octopress. As long as your OS and software remain the same, you can keep using it forever, even if Octopress development stopped entirely.

  • Produces a static site. This means that, when you build your site, it ends up being a bunch of HTML and CSS files that get delivered to your computer, without the server having to produce or compile any of them upon request. This makes your site more lightweight and faster to load.

What was bad about Octopress

As I understood it, Octopress was advertised as a wrapper around Jekyll.1 A wrapper that should have made it better, and more powerful, with all kinds of plugins, and… things.

Now that I think of it, I’m not sure how Octopress was supposed to be better than Jekyll. I just remember that the impression that I got was that Jekyll was ugly and scary and had claws, and Octopress was supposed to be the nice civil one.

Before I continue, I should make it clear that I did enjoy using Octopress and I probably would not have started a site without it at the time. I appreciate Brandon making it available for myself and others who used it.

Except that Octopress is a mess.2 I used it for over a year and I still don’t understand how all the parts fit together. My original site was one hack on top of another held together with duct tape.

Jekyll is actually nicer

I had not posted on my site for quite a while when I heard of the new Octopress being in development. I was excited at first because I thought it would make Octopress better, however, it turns out to be significantly different from the current Octopress, with the developer expressing some concerns about migration.

This made me pessimistic about the prospects of sticking with Octopress, and encouraged me to look into Jekyll and consider migrating to that, or something else.

And Jekyll is actually a lot nicer!

It took me a day to get the hang of Jekyll, although that speed is not a good indication of the difference between Octopress and Jekyll: Octopress uses a similar paradigm and file structure, and that, along with all the technical experience I’ve gained since 2012, taught me a lot of prerequisite knowledge for Jekyll.

That said, I actually understand Jekyll’s default css/sass files. There are only four of them.3

Jekyll’s default theme is a lot nicer and cleaner than Octopress’. It took a lot less time and effort to tweak the style to a point I am pretty happy with. My site loads much faster as well.4

Jekyll’s development seems further ahead. There was no equivalent to the amazing jekyll serve --watch command in Octopress.

Jekyll’s documentation is better and more comprehensive.

There are probably other reasons I’m enjoying Jekyll so much. Point is, it’s fun, I like it, and it’s here.

  1. I could be extremely wrong about that. 

  2. To put it in milder terms: Octopress was more of a mess than I could or wanted to manage. 

  3. It seems a bit perverse that I am celebrating the fact that there are four styling files that I need to keep track of, but such are the times we live in. This is still a breath of fresh air compared to Octopress’ structure. And I suppose I could merge the four into one if I really wanted to. 

  4. This is subjective, as I haven’t actually taken the time to test this, but there is no question in my mind. Jekyll loads much, much faster. When visiting my site in its previous Octopress incarnation, I’d see some coloured strips and underlines for links that haven’t appeared yet for a few seconds before the rest of the site followed. No such lagginess with Jekyll.