Migrating my blog from Blogger


Image Credit: Dr. Georg Wietschorke

I started blogging since 2007 more as an experiment. Although I have not been good at blogging, it just worked whenever I used it, but not good enough for technologist - to put a code snippet it just takes a lot of time. I always felt constrained by the web based editor, and the limitations of Blogger in how much can be customized. Finally, I have decided to say “Good Bye” to Blogger and say “Hi” to Jekyll for powering my blog, and my personal website.

Starting the migration

The effort for this move began approximately a year back, when I was trying to learn some frontend technology stack (even though that is not my day job) - Bootstrap, Gulp, Bower, SASS, LESS etc. I also got to know about Jekyll and GitHub’s support for it from a few reads online. So I started putting some effort to learn Jekyll and used it along with NodeJS etc to form the foundation for this website. My previous experience with Liquid script (which is the templating language for Jekyll), when I was working on Shopify, has made me feel at home with the templating script. My significant experience with Content Management Systems has also given me the advantage of thinking about content in terms of templates and components, thereby making the content management part of it easy - eg, I can think of a component if I have to copy paste the same HTML snippet over and over again.

Why migrate?

Although it took some significant time to set this up (I was almost done by January early this year), it was all it good. While setting up a more flexible website was the core reason for this move, there were a few extra goodies with this move.

  • Simple text files - Publishing a post or article is simply editing a text file, with optional markdown and HTML syntax. This makes writing posts much simpler.
  • Versioning - Now I can easily write a post or an article, while all of them being versioned by Git.
  • Easier updates to content - The concept of Bilki has now come true for my own website - I can write posts and articles which can evolve over time. However for the sake of logical distinction, things that are time based - an incident or event can go as a post (although corrections can be done). However some other topics, which can evolve over time can be written as articles.
  • Custom publish workflows - Since I can write posts locally, I can plug in publish workflows - in my case using NodeJS, Gulp etc.
  • Not just blog - Not this website is not just a blog, but much more. With ability to host pages, the possibility of using the website for hosting personal content are many. Apart from blogs, this website would also serve as my online portfolio and a flexible content platform in general.
  • No Google - Migrating from Blogger to this platform would also mean that there is no inherent Google. Google is going more and more creepy each day, and avoiding Google is one of my objectives. With this move I am not only moving away from the blogging engine, I am also discarding all the G+ comments on posts received over time, and instead opting for my choice of commenting system - now Disqus.

The migration process

I started with taking a dump of the Blogger (Exported as XML) following the process described in the Jekyll website. This gave the basic posts migrated for the Jekyll to consume.

Next was to identify the creative structure of the website, and so I created some wireframes, followed by setting up NodeJS and Gulp based workflows and the HTML and SASS required for styling the site. The GitHub repository for this website can be referenced for the source for this site.

This website was up and live earlier this year, however the migration completed after I took down the Blogger blog from its older domain - tech.ethomasjoseph.com and instead put in 301 redirects to this website. The older Blogger website is available at ethomasjoseph.blogspot.com.

There is more to come

Apart from new and more frequent content, there are a few things to be adjusted here and there to get this to a better place. The for for the improvement includes:

  • Writing a NodeJS/Gulp routine to automate the post creation task
  • Adding the syntax highlighting for code snippets
  • Migrating the images from older domains to GitHub hosted content.
  • Search within the website.
  • Enabling HTTPS on the site.

Where there is more content on this site, I would also look out for some better components to promote important content.

I am very positive that completing this migration is an important step towards writing and publishing more frequently that what I am at present. Keep tuned in!

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