Colds, Static Blogs, and Go

2013-01-29

Last week in my local Linux user group mailing list the topic of static blogging came up. I had been thinking of converting my blog over, but wasn’t sure which one I’d prefer to use. One of the responses to my inquiry was:

If you’ve been looking for a project with which to learn a new language, writing your own blog engine is a reasonable choice. The ‘market’ is already hopelessly polluted with toy blog engines, which is evidence for its suitability as a learning project. Most of what makes a blog memorable has absolutely nothing to do with the back-end software, anyway. If you are feeling ambitious, you could write a blog engine and your own Markdown parser with custom extensions (Pearson, 2013).

I don’t normally find myself with much time on my hands. I have two young children, school, a full-time job, and now a sister-in-law with crutches in the home. Misfortune (or fortune I suppose) befell me this weekend though and my son gave me a terrible cold. I was out of commission for the entire weekend.

You can only watch so much Psych and Downton Abbey, so I took upon myself the challenge of writing my own static blog application as suggested. Without further guilding the lilies, here it is: goblog.

I’m so daring, that I’ve even used it already to convert my existing blog at blogger into a static blog and I’ve hosted it using appengine. If you are reading this, I can say that the software worked! What’s nice about this all is that it’s still free. Github can host the code and I don’t imagine myself exceeding the free limits of appengine.

It is certainly rough around the edges, but I was surprised what I could accomplish over a weekend while heavily medicated. I attribute a lot of the success to the tools already available to me. Go provides a template package and Russ Ross already had a markdown parser. The front-end is simply bootstrap, jquery, and rainbow. It was merely a matter putting the pieces together.

You can see a completed working example with my own blog which originates from a project on github. It works great for me, but I’d be happy to entertain requests for changes. I tried to keep it simple, so it expects you to design the templates yourself but I imagine most DIY bloggers would want that anyway. All I do now to publish is:

$ goblog
$ appcfg.py update joshua.themarshians.com

Overall, it was a fun weekend for me and not just because of the codeine. I can’t say that I was a novice at Go, but I did learn a lot and hope to use the project as a springboard for more learning. I still need to add unit tests, improve the documentation, etc. All of those are sure to increase my knowledge of Go.