Manuel Kehl

Why I Moved From Drupal to Jekyll

When I started to learn about web development it felt to me as if everyone was suggesting to use a CMS for everything. Back then I have chosen to get started with Drupal after considering also Wordpress, Joomla and a few others and I have to say that it served me well all the time.

Nevertheless I have become tired of the amount of maintenance that a full blown CMS demands.

No matter how well the update mechanism is designed (Drupal’s drush up is super convenient), it is still a somewhat tedious procedure. Things may break. Thus one has to create, maintain and, in the worst case, re-deploy backups.

Another critical aspect is the fact, that security updates often allow for no more than a few hours to pass until vulnerabilities are widely exploited. This may not be a problem for companies capabable of paying staff all around the clock to react quickly in such scenarios, but it surely is a challenge for individuals like me running their own websites.

Keep It Simple

I basically wanted to get rid of two things: The database and all server side code.

Databases Are Cumbersome

Not relying on a database makes various things so much easier. One can quickly migrate to another host by uploading a bunch of files without even bothering to export/import SQL or change database credentials in some configuration file. One of the most outstanding advantages for me is the fact that, without a database, your complete website can be tracked using a version control system.

So Why Do You Want to Get Rid of PHP?

The simple answer is: Because I can. Given the type of content I provide on this website, there simply is no necessity for dynamic, server side code. PHP only imposes superfluous performance and security drawbacks, which I hereby avoid.

The Jekyll Workflow

I personally consider Jekyll’s workflow another major selling point for this system. Other CMSs come with heavy web interfaces for content creation, which often feel sluggish and are anything but a pleasure to interact with. In the worst case you may end up waiting for the post you have been typing for the past 2 hours to be processed just to find that the system decides to give you a timeout instead and discard your data (been there).

Jekyll uses plain text files formatted in Markdown. Therefore you can use your editor of choice to compose your posts. Simply type jekyll serve in the corresponding directory and it processes your files and even hosts a local web server to test your page. Setting up a web development environment has never been so easy.

Conclusion

There are many valid examples for projects that demand CMSs, databases and server side logic. It took me a while to realize that my personal website is not one of them, but now I am very content about the new found simplicity that Jekyll offers.

In the end of the day there is no such thing as the “best CMS”, as it all boils down to the maxim of choosing the right tool for the job.

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