Moving to GitHub pages

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For the past few years, I’ve had my blog hosted on blogger, and for the most part, I hated it. While Windows Live Writer was helping make the authoring experience bearable, in the end there was no getting away from the fact that I hate HTML!

On the other hand, I love Markdown, so I knew I had to move to a system that let me just use that directly. But when I asked on Twitter, people threw all kind of interesting options at me, and I had to make a choice. In the end, I went with Jekyll/GitHub pages, so I’ll use this post to discuss the thought process.

Here are some of the other options I looked at based on people’s suggestions.


Using Ghost was really tempting. It’s new and shiny, it has a clean interface, and it has a very nice browser hosted Markdown editor. Also, it runs great on Azure Web Sites, which is what I work on.

But then I realized something else: I hate databases. And I love files :)

I just didn’t want to deal with a system where my posts ended up somewhere in a database. So that was that.


Orchard also has nice Markdown support, which looked like a potential option.

But for the same reason as Ghost, I didn’t want to go down that route.


Several folks suggested that I look at Sandra.Snow, which is a .NET based system inspired by Jekyll. Being a .NET guy, it was tempting instead of using something based on Ruby/Python.

But this came with a big catch: if I used it with GitHub pages, I would need to locally generate the HTML, and then commit that to my repo. And the very thought of committing generated files to a repository makes me sad.

Another big one is that it would not have allowed me to tweak posts online and have them just go live.


Steve Marx suggested site44, which would let me publish my blog simply by adding files to a dropbox folder. And that’s certainly a cool way to publish files with no fuss.

But similarly to Sandra.Snow, I would have had to run Jekyll manually to create HTML files each time I want to publish, and I decided that wasn’t for me.

GitHub pages with Jekyll solved most issues

While not perfect, using GitHub pages with Jekyll provides a workflow that best matched what I was looking for:

  1. No database: it’s just a bunch of files. Yeah!
  2. No HTML: that’s not completely true, as I did install Jekyll locally, and when I run it, I get local HTML files. But I think in most cases when I’ll want to author a new post, I’ll directly push my new Markdown file and let GitHub do the dirty work.
  3. Built-in history: it’s a git repo. Enough said!
  4. Browser based editing: Github’s editor is rather awful (e.g. compared to Ghost), but it’s good enough to tweak existing posts. I hit save, and in under a minute, it’s live on my blog. I can do this from my phone if I need to. This would not be possible with Sandra.Snow or Site44.
  5. Collaborative workflow: if someone finds a typo is my post, they can just send a pull request. And then I can accept it without leaving my browser. This is brilliant, and none of the other 4 solutions above provide this.

Well, it’s too early to say that the end to end workflow is working great for me, but hopefully time will prove that it was a wise decision, as I’m not planning another move for a while!