How looking for the best hosting and software options for one website led to a project consolidating most of my personal online and social media presence into a single website connected into the fediverse through Mastodon.
I’d spent a little while prevaricating over hosting / design for a new project over at safetyFator. I’d looked at various options:
- I knew that I did not want another bloated Wordpress build.
- I like building in Processwire, though for this project I just wanted to get on with content.
- I also like developing in, and have built some fairly complex sites in Jekyll on GitHub pages - but again on this project, I just wanted to get on with content.
- I’d also investigated Ghost CMS which looks amazing, and micro.blog.
I was particularly intrigued by micro.blog, as I could see that all of the writers on that site had a Hugo website behind the scenes, a similar but faster static site generator to Jekyll, and I really just wanted to work in markdown.
I’d have probably opted for Ghost, especially if I had an established publication, but the cost seemed excessive on top of my existing hosting costs for a new niche project that may just not gain traction, so instead decided to give micro.blog a try to see if it could do what I wanted.
The safetyFator build was very straightforward. I opted for the Anatole theme ported to micro.blog by @amit, set up the taxonomies and about information, and started writing. I’ve made some customisations to the theme along the way, but essentially that site was very quick to build.
It was during this project that I realised how closely micro.blog could be integrated into Mastodon through the activity pub protocol. I’d been rehoming myself on mastodon in any case - Twitter had been insipid and void to me for best part of a decade, Facebook I only really use for engaging in various virtual cycling communities/teams, and more latterly had been using Instagram more, as I just felt that my feed was more interesting, more geared towards what I actually read.
So combined with reading around content ownership and the Fediverse, I got round to thinking, how about if I also bring my personal website across to micro.blog, and use it to syndicate my short-form text, articles, static content, and photography across the Fediverse from a single source of content that I own?
I decided to experiment, setting up a second micro.blog subscription to use for my personal content.
This project was much bigger, and involved bring across several hundred posts, and maybe a dozen static pages, from my hosted Wordpress website.
On the whole the migration worked really well. The posts came across seamlessly, bringing the media with them. The images probably need styling, but that can be done over the next while - especially as I am planning to set all the galleries up to work in @jsonbecker’s GLightbox plugin. Plugin setup is super simple in micro.blog too - there is a small range of plugins that you can add and remove directly in the micro.blog portal.
The pages were harder work. First up the Wordpress post importer in micro.blog only seems to import posts. I had to recreate the pages manually. That was fine, it did not really take too long, though did involve lifting and copying in substantial html tables that contain hill lists, and my records of when I completed each. I need to go back through the lists at some point, updating all of the urls. The way they worked on my previous site was to search the site for reference to the hill/mountain name, returning relevant articles. Once all of the lists have been updated, a similar experience will be produced using @sod’s search-space plugin.
Having lifted my website up, I decided to import all of my instagram posts into micro.blog too. That was easy enough, though the official instructions for this need to be updated to direct to the correct export file to import. Other than that though, it was very straightforward.
Moving from a Wordpress environment I lost the jetpack statistics that I have relied upon until now, and also wanted to move away from Google Analytics to take a more privacy oriented approach to analytics. There are a couple of analytics plugins in micro.blog, though I used Clicky - inserting the tracking code into my custom footer.
So at this point I have essentially consolidated my entire web presence onto a single website feeding out into Mastodon through micro.blog. I have customised some of the theming to meet my needs, including adding reading time into archives and posts. I still have some additional customisation that I want to build:
- Separate archives for short form text and articles.
- Pagination in the photo stream.
- Categorisation within photo stream too.
- Continuing to finish rebuilding my original article bank, which had stalled even in the previous build.
- Rebuilding all image galleries in GLightbox.
Having successfully brought my main website across, and streamlined my writing workflow in doing so, I’m left with a few decisions to make about some of my other projects.
MacRetro is easily the most successful website that I’ve ever run, though has been a little stagnant since I last had time to do much retro gaming. Do I leave it where it is, bring it across, and either way begin to revive the project? Much probably depends on how the earlier migrations work from an existing search optimisation perspective.
InsideRRR is a Virtual Cycling project that never really gained traction. Probably need to decide if this is a project that I want to continue with, and if I do, whether it just moves under my main domain. To move across probably needs a better approach to mapping and metrics visualisation than currently possible.
It has been an enjoyable and productive switch so far, I’m likely to consolidate more - subject to being able to provide more flexibility to the reader on what they see. I need to think about how to structure that more before moving forward.