Starting a blog is not difficult. Any Joe Schmoe can start plopping ideas into the public realm with just a few mouse clicks. There are many, many tools available to get a blog rolling: WordPress has dominated the self-hosted blogging landscape for years, Tumblr is ultra-popular with certain crowds, and for some reason people still use Blogger. The landscape is changing, though. Hosted blogging services like Tumblr and Posterous are traded like horses, with users left in the dust in some cases. Also, the WordPress feature set has vaulted beyond blogging tools, and is quickly becoming a full-blown content management system capable of building just about any type of website.
So what is the average blogger to do? Risk investing time and energy into a blogging service that may wind up as a minor acquisition of AOYahooSoft? Or dig through the complexity of WordPress’s ever expanding administration menus? How about neither? A new kid on the block just showed up with two fistfulls of awesome…
Ghost is a new open source blogging platform dedicated solely to dead-simple publishing. It’s goal it to let writers write, and have fun doing it. No crazy heirarchy of menus to wade through, no finicky wysiwyg editor mangling HTML, nothing to worry about except creating delightful posts. Every feature going into the initial release of Ghost will exist to support the prime directive of presenting a sensible, comfortable, and useful writing environment for the web.
The benefits of using one language for the full stack are obvious. I, personally, would love to focus my attention on one language when creating an application. But there are naysayers out there who would argue that NodeJS is just not the right tool for building a blogging platform, and Ghost would be better served by established frameworks like Rails, Django, or any number of PHP packages. This attitude is a bit short-sighted, in my opinion. If 37Signals thought like this, Basecampe would have been written in PHP, and Ruby might still be an esoteric language on the fringes of the web development world. It is projects like Ghost that will bring Node from marginal to mainstream.
We’ll have to wait a few months, though, as Ghost is still in its infancy. As of this writing, the Kickstarter campaign is reaching its end and is getting close to the stretch goal (after eclipsing the original goal 7 times over). Backers (including yours truly) will get early access this Summer, and the general public will get their hands on it in November. Not only will the code be open source, but a non-profit organization is being formed as we speak to provide reasonably priced blog hosting a-la WordPress.com. Because the service is formed under a non-profit, the risk of acquisition is minimal.
There is a good amount of promotional material available on the Kickstarter page, and the official website. I highly encourage taking a look, especially for anyone with even a passing interest in web publishing. Personally, I’m betting on Ghost as the next big thing, and in five years this post will be proof that I totally called it. Internet hipsters, eat your hearts out.