As I recently detailed, I’ve pretty much gotten over WordPress because they made the most important part of a blog – the writing editor – far more difficult to use, this on top of making editing the theme and layout itself more difficult for educated amateurs or those who no longer consider it a hobby to learn a whole new platform just because.
Incidentally, when I look back at the time I spent on CMS back-end and CSS coding, I think I could hand-code something before I got my head wrapped around WP and working with child themes. At least I’d know what I’m working with from scratch….
I’ve also detailed in the past why I wouldn’t look at Drupal. Yes, for people with full-time web devs, keeping live and dev copies running to troubleshoot potential updates and fixes, laying out a site template is actually easier, but again, I don’t want maintaining the back end to be the hobby.
So my first two most likely candidates are ghost and joomla. Both are open source. Both are portable and can be backed up. To one degree or another they can be installed on standard ubuntu/aws/vms/droplet instances, meaning they are not tied to one provider.
Joomla sits somewhere between Drupal and WordPress, but comes with a fairly sensible set of defaults. The text editor is still TinyMCE so it’s… quirky… but the plugins available for it cover almost any need, there are entire replacements available for article management, and there are a lot of themes for it. The biggest hassle unique to it will be getting my head wrapped around how the site options are organized to properly lock it down and secure it, and to get the page layout the way I want.
Ghost is, if anything, far simpler than wordpress. Installing it can be interesting, and in this case docker containers don’t help as they are all oriented toward development copies. While we’re at it, the Digital Ocean pre-fab droplet has horrible documentation and is a full version out of date, making it doubly difficult to set up, but getting a copy spun up, installed, and reasonably secured running on Ubuntu in AWS, Azure, or Dreamhost isn’t difficult if you’re familiar with teh command line at all. Unlike Joomla or WP, it doesn’t use the standard LAMP stack (it runs on Linux, can use MySQL or SQLLite, but uses Nginx instead of Apache, and NodeJS instead of PHP) so doesn’t co-exist as cleanly as it otherwise might.
The editor uses Markdown, which, while there are some things it doesn’t do cleanly and does require learning a couple formatting symbols, can do almost everything the WP version of TinyMCE can, but faster.
If I can find a suitable theme, I’m tempted to move right away.
The biggest issue unique to ghost is… comments. No way to import them and no native support. Sure, you can integrate Disqus, or worse, Facebook, and there is an option to install a bulletin board as the backend for a comment system, and I don’t get that many, but I’m not so narcissistic as to think no-one else has anything to add.
In both cases, importing the existing 700+ posts and their associated images is… onerous. The procedures for both are ugly and finicky.
Yeah, I know, Squarespace and Wix make that easy. For reasons obvious to most who’re reading this, I’m not voluntarily putting that noose around my neck.