I’ve been working for the past month on some updates to this site designed to make it easier for me to post a bit more. The key pieces you should know if you follow this blog:
- I’ve pulled the name of the newsletter I ran last year (Herding Lions) into the blog – this is now Herding Lions and I’ll be putting all my eng leadership content here in addition to the other content I’ve historically covered here.
- I’m adding a micro blog for shorter posts / to have a central controlled place for my short term content while Twitter meltdowns and everybody sorts out what’s coming next in that space.
- If you subscribe to my existing RSS feed you’ll now receive both full articles and micro blog posts. If you prefer to receive only the full articles (longer form stuff on engineering leadership and software as posted here in the past) you can switch your feed reader to track https://benmccormick.org/categories/article/feed.xml. Email subscribers don’t need to change, I’ll send occasional roundups of blog content through my newsletter.
For anyone interested in the implementation details:
My former writing setup (the 4th tech setup iteration of this site) was using
- Gatsby.js for creating a static generated blog (hosted on github pages)
- Revue (Twitter’s newsletter solution) for my email newsletter
- Twitter for occasional short form - writing / a way to work through ideas that weren’t post-worthy
I liked the flexibility of Gatsby and my setup was free to run, which is always nice. However it was relatively a pain to keep up to date and I was building a lot of the “blog” features myself as Gatsby pivoted to focus more on ecommerce/business use cases. I also wanted to write more short content on the blog but found the static-site setup tedious as I couldn’t easily publish from my iPad or phone. This wasn’t un-overcomable but generally I preferred to spend less time maintaining my site and more time writing.
Revue and Twitter 😅… Revue is shutting down next month, and Twitter’s future is unclear, as is the alternative / next place to read and write short thoughts.
All of which led me to investigate solutions with a goal of:
- An easier writing experience (something should be hosted somewhere ideally)
- Some flexibility on style experience (I like playing, but hopefully off a solid foundation)
- Ideally: an email newsletter option
- Ideally: easy short form blogging
My initial review primarily led me to look at Ghost and Micro.blog. Ghost has the most polish, integrates a newsletter feature, and is actually something I’ve used before (in the very early days of that platform). Micro.blog was new to me, but the emphasis on short form content, the community around it and being built on Hugo (what I would have looked at if I was just trying to find a better static site generator) was appealing to me.
Ultimately this blog is a side activity for me, so pricing was a heavy consideration and micro.blog (with buttondown for email) was significantly more affordable at my level of newsletter subscribers than the hosted versions of Ghost.
So this site is now hosted on micro.blog, using a custom theme loosely based on my previous Gatsby theme. The theme is a customized version of Paper which was originally converted for use with micro.blog by Amit Gawande. I’ve been enjoying the setup a lot so far, we’ll see how it ages.