Max Melcher

5 minute read

After over 6 years and 185 blog posts its time to leave Wordpress as a blogging platform and move on to Hugo.

This move is not because I had to, but in the past I replaced many of the services I used to managed services (I am looking at you, Office 365!) - and this tiny blog is the only reason I have to maintain a, most of the time, outdated linux VM with a fully fledged nginx, a slow and certainly unsecured MySql database and what not - for a blog… that does not feel right. And is slow. And the server that runs on a VM is actually quite expensive. Its like using a database when you dont need it - similar to the experience that Scott Hanselman describes in his post Cloud Database? NoSQL? Nah, just use CSVs and CsvHelper. No more wordpress security updates for me.

Enough of the past - lets make this awesome!

So I checked many many blog engines - asked my friends - thought about coding my own like my friend Ben Abt’s SchwabenCode - and i came to the conclusion that I wanted to have a static site generator that compiles my blog posts into a super performing, zero maintenance website that simply works. So I checked the popular ones like Jekyll or Ghost - but Ruby ruled out the first (even the mature community did not convince me), and many negative comments about ghost ruled out the other. So I tried the “newcomer” Hugo and it instantly felt right. As editor I can use the tool I like - VS Code - with the git integration I can flawlessly check-in, version and backup my entire blog. And replicate it to all my devices. Awesome.

Migration from Wordpress was not that easy - I had to install a plugin on the host, run the code in the ubuntu shell - and that created a 900mb zip with all my old assets and my blog posts as markup. I see some cleanup in the near future - but 90% automatically is better than 100% copy and paste… wouldnt have done it without it, so I am thankful for the hard work! And keep all my old links - that is of course super important!

Themes & Performance & Editing

I tried to create and adjust my Wordpress theme - but my php skills retired and it always was pain for me:

It loaded so much stuff, even with advanced techniques like http_spdy http/2 and wordpress caching plugins I had too many requests to make the page really fast. 70!!! http request for my landing page:

and compared to the new Hugo landing page:

Thats only 35% of the requests, 13% of the pagesize and blasting 6% of the load time I had before - on a 1 core Azure Website (S1). Could be further improved with a CDN or minifing the assets - but well, I can live with that and have less technical complexity.

With hugo, customizing is simply editing html files and adding placeholders - well, a bit more than that but I got easily used to it. In case you ask, the theme I use here is hugo-future-imperfect - and because of its open MIT license, I customized it to my basic needs. And it looks great on mobile. The hugo documentation is very helpful!

Hugo uses markdown to craft posts and pages - I have some experience with it from github - but checking this markdown cheat sheet helps. And the markdown preview in VS Code, of course.

Deploy to Production

Its no secret that I attend a lot of conferences. Most of the time I blog about the sessions I attend. In the past I add use the Wordpress browser editor which required a stable internet connection… or lots of work after the session that I rather use to ask questions or chat with people. Wordpress sometimes blocked me - even if I miss the “drag and drop” insertion of a picture already.

In the future I can write these post entirely offline, add picture and make the post ready. Once that is done, I can preview the post locally and render it like it will be shown live. Then do a git commit and git push - and a short moment later (if the internet works) this website will be deployed to an Azure Website in all its beauty:

Built site for language en:
0 of 36 drafts rendered
0 future content
0 expired content
154 regular pages created
114 other pages created
6955 non-page files copied
241 paginator pages created
0 tags created
48 categories created
total in 11388 ms

So 11 seconds for my entire website - awesomesauce! When I do write locally the delta-creation takes 400ms or so.

So how do I deploy this to my favorite cloud platform Azure? There is a cool deployment script for that (see my PR for latest Hugo binaries!) - and read this post for setting everything up. Entire deployment takes about 5 minutes - that could be improved, but I dont see the reason here.

Additionally the commenting experience changed - I migrated my comments to disqus - with wordpress I missed lots of comments and I hope that disqus works out.

Unfortunately I cannot update my channels automatically once I publish a post - I will figure out how to that with the least effort.

Future

So blogging is fun again - and thats how it is supposed to be!

If you have questions - please use the new comment system, I am eager to see how that works out!

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