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Ghost Presentation from Memphis Tech Camp 2013

Intro – Just a Blogging Platform

Ghost is a new platform just for blogging. Think WordPress, but simpler and without the expectation that you can use it for a website, ecommerce, photo gallery, or generic CMS. The focus is completely on writing and publishing long form articles.

Ghost was actually conceived as a WordPress plugin to restructure the entire interface to focus only on writing and publishing, but the limitations were too great and a new platform was created from scratch. The new platform has simplicity and focus at its core.

It’s Easy

There are quite a few new tools out there for creating blogs that are free and feature rich, but often can be difficult to set up and use. Ghost is meant for hackers and ‘non-techies’ alike.

It’s Simple

Other blogging platforms attempt to give you every option under the sun. The core focus of Ghost will always be on blogging, not providing a ‘platform for the web’. Not trying to bash WordPress at all, just stating that Ghost has different goals.

“Feature rich” is great if it’s what you need, or if you are doing more than just writing and publishing, but can be overkill/overwhelming/confusing if not.

It’s Open Source

Ghost is an open source project and MIT licensed. You can fork it and create your own blogging platform project, or integrate it into your open source CRM.

It’s Non Profit

Honestly, this is probably one of the most intriguing aspects of the Ghost project. The Ghost Foundation was formed after a very successful Kickstarter campaign which raised over $300,000.

The Ghost Foundation will be the umbrella organization that promotes the continuing development of Ghost, and also runs the Ghost hosted service. All proceeds from the hosted platform go back to funding Ghost development, growing the hosting service, and growing the Ghost ecosystem and community.

Built on NodeJS

Where WordPress, Drupal and Joomla are all PHP based, Ghost is an app built completely with Javascript. This is very interesting from a technical standpoint, but the takeaway is that Ghost is attempting to future-proof itself by using JavaScript. JS has been around for 18 years, and is only getting more and more popular.

This has all sorts of wonderful and magnificent implications for developers, but creates a slight problem for regular folks who just want to write…

Ghost Hosting

Hosting is a bit of an issue right now. You can’t call Godaddy or HostGator and get a 1-click install for Ghost, like you can with PHP software. the Ghost Foundation is remedying this by offering their own hosting service which is currently in private beta (I have a site, it works just fine).

Other hosting companies have created their own options as well. They won’t be quite as easy as Ghost.org, but may offer some incentives depending on your needs.

Extending Ghost

Right now, Ghost has a pretty decent theme system that allows you to customize the layout and style of your blog. There are already a bunch of pre-made themes in the Ghost marketplace. Also, a few Ghost theme sites have popped up as well (including my own!).

The Future of Ghost

There is a new release coming out soon which adds tons of new features, and another release is planned for late December / early January. the Roadmap and progress is listed on the GitHub wiki.

Resources

The official Ghost forum is the best place to go for help. There are also other sites dedicated to installation and hosting, as well as themes and configuration. Of course, please feel free to ask me as well.

Ghost: Just A Blogging Platform: Of the Future

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.

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 underlying technology powering Ghost will be an example of simplified elegance. NodeJS will act as the foundation, and the Express framework, JugglingDB ORM, and Handlebars template system will provide the scaffolding. This means that 100% of the Ghost platform will be written in a single language – Javascript.

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.

© 2017 Eric Terpstra

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