Dev Depot: Ghost, Open Source Blog Publishing

Stephen Yagielowicz

Calling itself “a beautifully designed platform dedicated to one thing: Publishing,” Ghost (www.ghost.org) is an Open Source application that allows users to easily create and publish a blog, with tools that make it fun to do. “It’s simple, elegant, and designed so that you can spend less time making your blog work and more time blogging.”

Its publisher explains that Ghost is a responsive web application that works fully on all devices — not just moderating comments or token functionality — with Ghost, the whole system is cross-platform compatible.

Ghost differs by being built entirely with JavaScript — representing a more tech-forward architecture than the more commonly used PHP-based systems, such as WordPress.

Boasting “the best writing experience on the web,” Ghost has an incredibly simple concept for writing, where users type into a Markdown box on the left and immediately see a preview of what the post will look like on the right, rendered in HTML with a multitude of formatting styles.

Fully customizable themes, plugins and dashboard allow users to work they way they want to, and to add their own functionality. The MIT license imposes no restrictions and a hosted version including all the bells, whistles, themes and plugins, along with extras such as auto updates and backups, is in the works.

Prior to its public launch in mid-October, Ghost was only available to its 6,000 initial Kickstarter supporters, who paid for the project’s financing via the crowdfunding service.

With a year of initial development time behind it, Ghost’s basic premise is to serve as a simple blogging platform, rather than go the way of some of its bloated competitors, such as WordPress, which have morphed into fully featured content management systems (CMS) that are suitable for creating many types of websites.

But Ghost represents much more than just a publishing platform that is lightweight by virtue of offering fewer features and more limitations than its competitors. Ghost differs by being built entirely with JavaScript — representing a more tech-forward architecture than the more commonly used PHP-based systems, such as WordPress.

According to Ghost creator John O’Nolan, every technology has an expiration date.

“Great technologists believe in the right tool for the job, but the fact remains that the relevancy of a technology is what tends to fade over time as technology re-invents itself at a faster pace each year,” O’Nolan stated. “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.”

O’Nolan notes, however, that PHP has its limitations and other technologies beat it.

“One technology that we have seen be revisited countless times over the years is the intersection of two very powerful innovations for the web: Server-Side JavaScript, which now generally takes the form of Node.js and Client-Side JavaScript, which [is] largely responsible for interactivity on the web for more than a decade [including] jQuery).”

Using JavaScript allows Ghost to access rapidly growing communities, while making the project accessible to other developmental teams, such as Ruby on Rails and Python, which have little interest in supporting “old guard” PHP projects.

If you are the type of adult site developer always seeking the latest thing, or simply want to move beyond PHP, then Ghost may be it.

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