The Verification Gentleman Blog will be moving from Blogger.
While Blogger was a great platform to start on, especially considering the fact that it's 100% free, I feel that I've outgrown it.
The interface is very arcane and it's very difficult to do any kind of customization. For example, setting up syntax highlighting required fiddling with a lot of things to get it working and even then the results aren't all that great. It's very easy to mess up the entire blog and not be able to restore it to a previous version.
Writing posts requires too much manual intervention. It all went downhill when Windows Live Writer stopped working, which meant that edits had to be done in the web interface. I spent quite some time setting up a flow to generate the HTML for Blogger using Pelican, but this still requires a lot of manual steps. Since previews have to be done from the web interface, any kind of change requires an update of the post's source, generation of the HTML, copy/pasting the HTML into the Blogger web interface and re-inspecting the preview. This is very time consuming and draining. Working with images or any other kinds of external content is also a pain.
Blogger currently only supports comments from Google users. It used to support more authentication sources, but apparently these got dropped a while ago. Coupled with the fact that a lot of people have deleted their Google accounts, a lot of comments ended up as being posted by "Unknown" or "Anonymous".
Incidentally, I thought I'd write this post in the Blogger web interface directly, to save time. While working on it, Blogger was nice enough to throw out all of my content and I had to start from scratch.
What does this mean for readers?
I have started to migrate the blog's content to Jekyll, a static site generator. The blog's appearance will change, but the URL will stay the same. I'll try to keep any of the existing links working, but I might miss a few. If this is the case, please let me know so I can fix them. The current Blogger-based blog will still be available at https://verificationgentleman.blogspot.com for a while, though I do plan to eventually take it down.
The main thing that will change for readers is the handling of comments. I didn't want to use a third party service, like Disqus, because these would require users to create new accounts with them in order to post. They also usually serve ads, sometimes very questionable ones I hear. I settled on Discourse, because it integrates very well with static sites. If you want to post comments, you'll have to register at https://discourse.verificationgentleman.com/. The cool thing about Discourse is that it supports OAuth, so if you don't want to sign up using an email and a password, you can use your Google, Facebook or GitHub account.
I've migrated all existing comments to Discourse. I've created dummy accounts for all comment authors. The user names for these account have a "_ifb" suffix (which stands for "imported from Blogger" - this had to be short, because Discourse only supports a maximum length of 20 characters). The names also contain "(Imported from Blogger)". If you create an account and want your old comments assigned to you, you can drop me a private message and we can make it happen.
I still have to sort out the RSS feed, but this should be a minor issue. Email subscriptions have already stopped working, because FeedBurner killed support for them this summer. I'll look into getting this working again, but it's not that easy to find free services for this.
I also don't have a replacement for the contact form at the moment. A private message on Discourse should be an acceptable alternative for the time being.
Static site generators are much easier to work with, requiring fewer manual steps. Hopefully I'll have to spend less time managing the blog and more time writing content for it.