The Wordpress CMS had served me well over the time. I had used it for a decade or so.
I never had any trouble with it, but it was becoming harder and harder to maintain:
- a dynamic website requires good administration, especially for updates and security;
- it is quite demanding in resources (PHP, MySQL), so hosting is pricy;
- adding contents is cumbersome, as it must be done online, within a browser and in a HTML editor.
These items caused much friction with my busy schedule and my workflow, vastely based around
Advantages of a static website
First, there is an obvious advantage regarding hosting. Rendering static webpages is light and fast, so there are many cheap or even free hosting solutions.
Like many other people, I chose Github Pages, which is based on the Jekyll engine. Basically, you just create a
git repo, fill it with
markdown, and Github takes care of the rest to render the website after you push some changes.
It’s transparent to the user and very well documented, which is far from enough for my needs.
The other advantage is that the security issue is solved: it’s much easier to secure a static website, moreover, in my case, it’s now delegated to Github.
Finally, it is perfectly aligned with my workflow. I can now just fire up Visual Studio Code (my current favorite editor), write some article in
markdown anytime and just push it online with
It is much more flexible and time saving, so I hope it will help me to publish from time to time.
The migration: what did not work
By intuition, I thought that converting from the source, Wordpress, would give the best results.
I found that there is an extension just for that, namely Simply Static. There are a bunch of options to fix links and then generate a
zip archive with the static contents.
On the paper, it looks nice, but for some reason, it did not work well with my blog: I ended with many broken links, missing resources, so it was not worth it.
I also considered just linking to the archive of my blog on archive.org. After all, if it’s already there, why bothering hosting old contents? Unfortunately, it has a few caveats: some pages are missing and the performances are terribly bad, so much that it was a “no go”.
Interestingly, there is a service Wayback Machine Downloader which, for a small fee, offers to take care of the download. I tried the demo, but again experienced some breakage, so I was not convinced.
What worked: downloading with
A good old tool for scraping websites is
Below is the command I used to scrap the blog:
➜ httrack "https://phocean.net/" "+*.phocean.net/*"
I obtained a local archive, wich mostly worked when opened in a browser. However, many absolute links remained, which caused trouble with some CSS,
jquery or images.
But nothing insurmountable: 15 minutes later, after
sed, regex and eventually
find, I got a perfect archive. For free.