Photo by @hugowiz / Unsplash.com

Introducing ‘Just Enough Migration’

I wrote last July about how I run my blog as a static site. In essence, I ran a local virtual machine with Windows Server 2019 and XAMPP. I would author my posts, and generate a static HTML site periodically, that I would then publish to Azure App Service. I had this setup for about a year, and I was pretty satisfied with it.

I was fond of this setup. I could leverage the flexibility and plugins of WordPress, but I wouldn’t really have to worry about the semantics on how to generate a static website. Occasionally I’d dabble with modern static site generators, such as Hugo, but I never really got them to bend to my will well enough.

Until last week happened. Generating my static site started to take a lot of time. Usually between 10 to 15 minutes. And this was just for fixing a slight typo. Also, offline authoring was more problematic, as I’d have to VPN home first, make sure the VM was running (and XAMPP’s service were running) and then author my posts.

So, I set to figure out what my new platform would be. A few of my friends run their sites on Ghost. It’s relatively expensive if you purchase the hosted service – starting from $29/month. Also, content is authored using Markdown, which depending on your background is either a massive plus or yet another pesky thing to live with.

I spent a few evenings migrating all of my content to Ghost. They have guidance on this, which essentially is about exporting your content from WordPress and importing it back to Ghost.

For me, this didn’t work at all. All imported content in Ghost included all HTML formatting, even when using the modern rich-text editor in Ghost. I briefly considered building a script to clean them up, but I decided against this as I felt it’s not a good use of my somewhat limited free time.

I bought a few themes for Ghost and was surprised how expensive they are for Ghost. Many would cost as much as 60 euro, for what seemed like minimal design.

Finally yesterday I took a moment to pause and reflect on this migration journey. Do I really want to migrate to another platform that requires me to semi-manually fix a lot in my content? What’s the upside? And what if I later want to migrate away from Ghost to something else?

I settled for something I’ll call ‘Just Enough Migration‘. Just enough to get me by, and something I’m satisfied for a few more years – until I can comfortably find more time and resources.

I opted to buy a hosted WordPress installation from a local, Finnish provider (thanks, Seravo!). Having used their services before, I knew what I was getting. For 30 euro a month I can effectively offload manual maintenance and worry to someone else, and focus on my content.

Migration was a breeze, as I had the option to export all settings and content from my local WordPress using All-In-One WP Migration. After importing my content to the new hosted WordPress I needed to fix a bunch of broken image links. Thankfully the service provider has lightning-quick customer service, and they were able to assist me with this.

Perhaps it’s an age thing (I turn 43, I think, this year), and living through the busy years of work, family, kids, school and hobbies, that I needed the Just Enough Migration approach to make my life easier.