Piwik and Discourse and Pelican, Oh My!


Up until yesterday, this blog was hosted on Github pages, and was built using Jekyll. There were no comments, and I had no analytics.

Way back in 2015, I read an article by Joe Buhlig where he migrated from WordPress and Google Analytics to Jekyll and Piwik. Jekyll is a program for generating static websites (no need for server rendering). Piwik is an application that tracks analytics. He was really excited about the faster load times compared to Wordpress, and that he wasn't sharing all his readers' analytics with Google.

For the last year, I've run my blog on Jekyll, which is a static web page generator that is based on ruby. During this time, I was hosting my website on GitHub Pages, which helped me cut down a little bit on hosting expenses. Eventually, my needs changed.

Because I was invited to be a guest blogger, I need to figure out how the analytics on my site were going to change as an effect of writing articles on other websites. I needed to set up Piwik.

Also, there had been several people who had been wanting to comment on my posts, and Jekyll couldn't accommodate this. I discovered that I could set up Discourse for free on my own server, and load the discussions over JavaScript, which seemed to be an OK fix. Another boon of setting up Discourse was allowing people to sign up for email updates to my blog! Exciting!

The biggest shift was in installing Pelican This forced me to overhaul my entire website from the CSS-up (and fix the rather tacky old layout). However, it also allowed me to start blogging in reStructuredText in addition to markdown. I could also build plugins and extensions to my site in Python, which is a huge plus since I use Python everyday at work.

The whole migration took Labor Day (for Piwik and Discourse), and another Monday evening/Tuesday morning. I learned a lot in the process, including

Unfortunately, I can no longer deploy new posts from Dropbox, but I found I never did that anyway. The system that I've set up now is much closer to what I use to document my projects at work, so hopefully blogging will become much more frequent.