I converted this blog over to Octopress about 6 months ago, and I was very excited about it.
But now I’ve been using Jekyll for a few months instead, and I’d like to talk about why.
When I first decided to try using a static site generator instead of a hosted service I looked at several before settling on Octopress. Octopress had the most features, was written in a language I was familiar with and had the best introductory docs (at the time). It was a quick way to get started.
At the end of the day, Octopress is (in version 2) a heavily customised Jekyll blog with lots of automation. It isn’t its own blog engine, it’s a custom install of another. Once I started needing customize things I ran into issues. Mostly the problems where a matter of complexity but also uncertainty about how to maintain my changes through updates. Octopress was just too much complexity. The irony of this being that I had wanted to move away from hosted services so I had more direct control over my site.
When I had initially looked at Jekyll, I had been overwhelmed with the amount of work I would have to do to make the site what I wanted. However this time around, I had learned so much from struggling with Octopress that I knew exactly what I needed to add (and what things I didn’t).
It is also true that Jekyll has improved somewhat in the intervening time, especially the new 1.0 release and the excellent accompanying documentation.
Now having a basic understanding of how Jekyll worked, I could start with it’s spartan basic site and build up the elements that it lacked out of the box. And without being overwhelmed with complexity and the issues that came with Octopress. I think now, with Jekyll, for the first time I actually have control of what this site is doing.
Leaping into the deep-end with something complicated is a great way to learn. However once you swum around in someone else’s pool for a while you do need to get out and go swim in your own pool.