It has been a little while since I last posted something. So this post is a little bit of a progress update. I am still investigating moving away from WordPress to a static site using Sphinx. It turns out there is quite a bit to research and learn about. Whilst the transition of this website into a static form might still be some way off I am finding Sphinx very useful for my own notes and research.
Using Sphinx for notes is leading me to discover more of the tools I need for the migration. At the same time however I am wondering about using the right tool for the right job.
To make Sphinx output HTML is very easy. It is also simple to create a hierarchy of documents linked together. What requires more effort however is turning it into a blog style site with dated posts, tags categories etc. There is an extenstion ABlog which adds the required features but at the expense (or so it appears) of taking over the rest of the Sphinx installation. Other options are available but the communities behind them do not appear as active as I would like when planning a big site migration.
This has had me wondering about Pelican again. It is another static site generator geared towards the blog style and allows the importing of WP sites. But again do I risk loosing what I like about Sphinx just to have a blog like tool. I already have a blog like tool, it's called WordPress.
I have also been considering comments. A static site by default does not allow comments. Comments need to be added using an external plugin/service. This might come at an additional cost or loss of control over such comments. Neither option is ideal.
But what is it that I don't like about WordPress at the moment? A few things. I am not a fan of the new editor. I grew up hand coding html and css files. WordPress is good if you don't want to have such fine grained control over the look and feel of the site. I want to have the control to format the content the way I want and to keep it that way. I have not always been able to do this as I have changed WordPress templates over the years to benefit from the additional features that keep being added. Each new template has tweaked the layout in various ways that it has broken the flow/style of my content. For text heavy posts this isn't a problem. But I have tried to write guides and this has posed a problem. Having to go back and ensure that it still looks right is a pain.
The next thing I am not a fan of is the Gutenberg editor. I am not a fan of it. Just trying to type a long post like this I am finding little things that I don't like. It's better than it was but it still isn't as seamless to me as the old editor when it comes to structuring content that might include images, tables etc.
My current thoughts at time of writing is this. Why not have the best of both worlds? I can easily create static content and host it alongside WordPress. The static content I am more interesting in managing offline with Git. As I make changes to it I can push the changes up to the site without affecting the WordPress install.
Such a set up would allow me to still announce new content using WordPress and simply link over to the static portion of the site. At the same time this allows the static site to refer back to the WordPress site as a point where comments can be made. It solves the problem of how to have comments on a static site and still allows me full control over the comments themselves.
There is another hidden bonus in that by not having to export the current post archive to another platform I can save myself a great deal of time. There is still plenty more thinking to be done on this matter but I think I am getting near to a solution.