The Ghost Blogging Platform
My experience with WordPress as both a developer and a blogger was alright, but recently I began to feel it is blocking my blogging experience. See I have these posts with computer code in, and formatting them began to feel as a real drudgery. Moreover, the interface was not responsive enough, and loading time of the blog felt slow enough to be notifceable. Being hosted on WordPress.com, the forerunner of WordPress hosting, I felt that I should look for a different platform, not a different hosting server.
Since I heard some time ago on Ghost, a new kid on the block, I decided to give it a try. Since Ghost is built with Node.js, a language I love coding with, and that I know can offer superior performance on the server-side, I believed it might hold promise.
Writing in Ghost is done with Markdown which is a plain text with some formatting instructions. It is dead simple, such as formatting code with four spaces in the beginning of the line, or creating a headline by putting a line of equal (=) sign below the headline, the writing just flows.
Ghost is built with Node.js. Ghost offers their own hosting, but it can be installed on any Linux/Windows/Mac server. I tried Ghost hosting, but since I already had my own domain name, I felt the domain transfer to be cumbersome, and the pricing by page views to be too risky. So I decided to choose some hosting provider and install it myself. Luckily, Digital Ocean, provides pre-built server with Ghost, with very simple instructions, what Digital Ocean call a Droplet (see https://www.digitalocean.com/community/articles/how-to-use-the-digitalocean-ghost-application). Setup of Ghost including the launching of the server required just 15 minutes, and I was ready to blog.
Converting my blog from WordPress to Ghost was simple matter. You can copy-paste HTML from WordPress, and it will jsut work, or you can convert it easily to Markdown.
Ghost being a blogging platform does present some in putting up some portfolio information besides your blog.
You can write posts or pages. But, its default Casper theme provides just your blog, with no way to link to your pages. However, whereas most professional like me would want to provide some information, such as contact information, next to their blog. There is a marketplace of themes, and I recommend using the free Peeves theme. It is easy to customize with your own contact pages. On your hope page, you can customize a collection of contact icons, such as email, Twitter, GitHub, etc.
As you write, you can add images or link to them. I would recommend hosting your images on Flickr and linking on them, allowing for better availability.
To get share buttons, it is best to use AddThis Smart Layers that would give much more share button than your care out of the box. They are easy to integrate into Ghost using these instructions: http://www.ghostforbeginners.com/how-to-add-floating-share-buttons/
Ghost promises to offer more features in the future, such as a great dashboard, but we still have to wait for these. For now, I can tell you that I have a freewheeling blogging experience, with super blog performance, pages loading in a snap.