Not Yet Ready for Ghost

There has been quite a lot spoken and written about the new blogging platform that is supposedly poised to revolutionize online writing in general. I took time to play with Ghost  this weekend, and here are my thoughts regarding why I will NOT be moving to it anytime soon.

According to Ghost’s sales pitch, their Raison d’être are the following:

1. Use of Markdown

2. Instant feedback regarding look and feel using a split screen

3. Futuristic dashboard

Here are some of my counter arguments (and reasons why I prefer to continue with my wordpress blog):

1. I use Markdown for GitHub because I am forced to.. it is not exactly a walk in the park to get things to look the way you want it to! For plain text, Yes. But if you are doing non-trivial layouts (images even), the markdown syntax can slow you down. It is a new syntax and learning (and unlearning) is involved (fortunately though, Ghost also allows for html). Still, expecting everyone to use markup (or html) to compose blogs is a tall order!

2. Windows live writer: I am a die-hard fan of WLW, and have been for the past 8-10 years. Currently, WLW cannot talk with Ghost and that is a big issue for me.

3. Offline access: You need to be online for the Ghost live preview function to work. Otherwise, you will just end up typing markdown in a notepad like environment. WLW mentioned above solves the offline problem nicely. What’s more, you can even download your blog’s wordpress theme into WLW and view a preview exactly like it would look online. In fact, almost ALL my blogs are composed offline on WLW and then published.

4. Free vs Paid: There is currently no free offering for ghost blogs. Most folks currently using ghost are either on their personal VPS or on some paid ghost hosting provider. Note that there is no SEO optimization or backup or spam block or CDN speedup or any of that good stuff when you use a personal VPS for setting up your blog (all of which come standard with say a free blog hosted on wordpress).

5. Comments: In my opinion, online blogging as a medium gained popularity because of the social aspect – so people may comment, react and question your thoughts and ideas. The advice seems to be to integrate disqus or facebook for comments. I do not agree with that line of reasoning.

6. Dashboard: Yeah the Ghost dashboard is indeed yummy. But I also happen to like how WordPress does it. The global map displaying regions of access and common search terms used to reach me are all I usually look at.

Bottom-line: This blog uses a dead simple theme (suits) – All sidebars and footers are collapsed to boost real-estate available for content. Well received blogs authored by me usually get promoted to the first or second page in a google search (which is what really matters – there is no point expending resources towards blogging if your content is not reachable). So, if simplicity is your goal choose a simple theme on a platform that allows you the flexibility to grow.

I still love blogging using my Live Writer client, and for me, wordpress is still “just a blogging platform”.

PS: There is a new plugin named Gust (still in active development) that replicates a Ghost look and feel in WordPress. Still if you concur with my observations above, this should not enthuse you too much!

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