A static site

13 December 2014

In a possibly vain attempt to simplify my life, I am moving most of my sites to a lightweight platform. Specifically, I’m going away from Wordpress and moving to Pelican.

It all started when it fell due to renew The Woolseys. The site has been moribund for sometime, and I was going to close it down, but some of the content is still meaningful. It had been running on MovableType but my sense was it was not as well supported as it had been.

So, I thought I’d ‘quickly’ convert the site to a static instance. That way it would be a lot less susceptible to the endless hacking attempts.A little bit of Googling, some work with wget and I was done. It was then that I began to think about my other sites.

They all take time to maintain. Every time I go there, there is yet another update (either to WordPress or it’s themes, or it’s plugins). I always feel obliged to do them just in case the update is fixing a vulnerability. I suspect that most of the time I’m getting new features along with any fixes, but … it’s all a bit of a pain.

As a result, I started looking around for alternatives. At first I thought about Ghost running on top of node.js. In fact I even upgraded my hosting at A2 Hosting to allow me to run it. But, once again it felt ‘heavy’ (and I could not quite figure out some of the templating stuff because not all the data is presented to all of templates).

Anyway, with the help of Dr Google, I have a working process in place for converting my old sites.

There were three difficult parts to the process. First, there were the Unicode characters that are scattered through the exported data from WordPress. These include soft-hyphen (optional hyphens), curly quotes and double quotes, em-dashes, and many more. That took a bit of scripting with Vim.

There was also a pile of half converted Textile data (from before the sites were based on WordPress … from when they were MovableType). Pandoc helped with that. But, that put Unicode characters back in the files. Back to scripts with Vim.

I still need to go through ever post and check for the odd little conversions that aren’t right. But I think I’m pretty much there now.