First impressions of Ghost.

Just a Blogging Platform

Ghost from its time of conception was met with a flurry of fan fare.

Popular Interactive designer John O’Nolan was looking for a simple pure blogging platform. His initial concept found here seemed to foster a lot of support for such a product.

I my self over the years have been increasingly more and more frustrated with WordPress and how it relies on a clunky and out dated way of doing things. After all this is one of the main reasons I began work on Tentacle CMS.

From Conception
In very early talks with John it was clear that he wanted a pure and simple blogging platform. He listed a few development paths that were available to him, one of which was building off the WordPress core.

Right now the leading open source new media publishing projects are driven by PHP communities. It’s easy to see why, with a well-established and vibrant ecosystem, the PHP community is strong. But, it comes with its limitations, and recently other technologies have taken the lead on innovation.

Technical choices
Ghost has been built on Node.js, now this is where my view of Ghost took a turn for the worst.

If the goal is to be simple, and pure then how much innovation is actually needed? I could imagine there won’t be a need for complex plugins, search, navigation hierarchy and so on.

If I were to come up with a set of characteristics for any distributed software application here would be my key points.

  • Little to no knowledge to setup and use
  • Widely adopted platform support

Node.js out of the box means you need Command line access. To get command line access you might find that you need to upgrade your shared host to a VPS. Node.js is also not something that is readily installed on a lot of hosting environments. Again, a certain level of experience is needed to get that up and running.

I am not going to sit here and state how well adopted PHP is, Since Ghost already did that out.

I spent the better part of 45 min installing Ghost, 3 attempts and finally some searching on changing its default configuration from SQLite to MySQL.

From what I saw, and this could be how node works. But following the Ghost docs my install went something like this.

I kicked the tires for a few minutes enough to see that yes it uses makrdown and yes, you can only have posts. With Tags.

What was the point again?

I had just wasted 45 minutes installing this thing to only say. “Alrighty then

Am I the only one having problems?
Nope, The support forums are packed with questions, complaints and issues.

Now we can argue that Ghost is just a baby and that all new software has problems, It’s only publicly 4 days old. But the kicker is well Kick Starter, Ghost raised a whopping $317,000.00 USD! Enough money to pay a few people well for a year, and enough to pay a team well for the time it took to build.

But the issues I had really were purely around the install process and had nothing to do with the interface or UX of Ghost, it was all around the experience of install it.

Node won’t pay nice with current servers running Apache, so again you have to spend some time configuring things to work with each other.

They also received support ( not clear in what manner ) from key Partners including Internet Explorer, Woo Themes, Code School, and envato.

As far as I can tell, Node.js is on about 0.95% of all web servers.

The other guys
From it’s conception to its release on October 14th Medium has also sprouted wings and is wildly successful.

I also came across Dropplets. Built in PHP I had it up and running within the time it took me to upload to my server, DB less Markdown blogging platform, where I can see some clever people hooking it up with GitHub for team collaboration and version control.

Even something like Koken which is more or less a pure blogging platform for photographers.

Enough already

Ghost for me will probably never be a viable option, or even a recommendation to clients or friends. It requires to many other variables to be adjusted. Their hosed solution may be something to look at however but seeing as how you can get a powerful VPS now for $2-$5 a month its hard for me to justify the cost.

Ghost has willingly created a higher barrier of entry than any similar products. Offers such a limited set of core features that I don’t know how it would not be extended down the road much like WordPress was.

If it were me looking for a pure blogging platform I would go with something like Dropplets in a heart beat.

Because I know I can run it along with my client sites who run WordPress with minimal hassle.


Since I am so slow and posting this there has already been a few patches update made to Ghost, While I did not update.  I read over the directions and they seemed to be just as confusing as the install.

Final thoughts?

While from the front end everything seems to work fine with Ghost, there seems to be a trend in using new technologies to do more or less simple and already established things. NPM this, Grunt that, Rake DB, Composer Update.

Make software for people to use.

Use technology to make Development faster.

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