Ghost: Everything you’ve always wanted in WordPress – and Less!!

Wait!!! Don’t blow this off. If you are a blogger, then give me a minute!

Ghost is something different. It’s a serious attempt to dial down the bloat that has crept into all the popular content management systems: WordPress, Drupal, Joomla and many others. They’ve all got tons of features (and plug-ins) but at the cost of many layers of complexity. Even the simplest of this trio, WordPress, is suffering from Bloat Syndrome.

What started out life as a simple blogging tool has grown into a full-fledged content management system. Today, thousands of WordPress sites do much more than blogging. For example, this site is a WordPress site.

In a sense, the WordPress community has been seduced by the desire to extend their favorite platform without limits. It really is that good – I’m not denying that – but if you need only a blogging platform, then maybe its gotten too bloated for its own good.

Ghost hits the reset button. It offers the speed, simplicity, and minimalism that WordPress users can only dream about.

Learn about what’s different about Ghost after the break!

In order to do this, Ghost is based on a different technology than the other apps.

WordPress and its friends are all PHP-based. That’s the back-end language that it’s written in. It’s become both a blessing and a curse. Web hosting companies have evolved to support this environment.

Instead of PHP, Ghost is based on node.js. Node.js allows developers to write Javascript on the server side of the fence. In the past, a second programming language, such as PHP or Perl, was required for server-side programming. Node.js gives it a big competitive advantage over the PHP-based content management systems. But it also creates a serious practical problem: installation.

Since the popular shared hosting companies evolved evolved around PHP-based software, its a no-brainer to for them to use a one-click installer. But this is all incompatible with node.js. That means that Ghost requires a custom install on a virtual private server or (gasp) a dedicated server. The irony is that this minimalist writer’s tool often requires a developer do to the install and a business to pay for it!

But this is changing. Softaculous has upgraded to support Ghost as one of their standard installs ( A few hosting companies are upgrading their facilities to support node.js and Ghost. Once that happens, they can make a one-click install available to their customers in this way.

What’s so cool about Ghost?

Let’s take a look.

The idea is to give writers only the tools they need to do their writing, but no more. It’s about saying “no” to feature creep.

Its writing environment has two panels; on the left you write and edit your blog in Markdown or HTML — it doesn’t matter — and the right panel is the live preview. Here’s a screen shot of a Ghost blog.


Notice that this blog happens to be a mixture of Markdown and ordinary HTML5.

As you scroll, the two panels stay in sync. Changes in the left panel are reflected in the preview panel instantly. Did I say it’s fast? Its fun – partially because its fast and responsive.

The Downside

Because it is so lightweight, it doesn’t have some features I’m used to. I don’t know whether I’ll miss them.

Currently, I use a good writing tool, BBedit, and Drupal as my CMS. BBedit offers some writer’s tools that are missing from this beta of Ghost: a spelling checker, palettes for HTML, CSS, and others, tons of keyboard shortcuts, and the ability to add shortcuts of my own. BBedit has a live preview window and it can use an external browser as its preview. Am I the victim of feature creep or is this normal??

I don’t know whether I’ll switch, but I want to try it out in its beta period. This is only .4, so there’s no telling what the 1.0 will eventually offer. I know, it’s terrific to have an integrated Markdown interpreter and a fast live preview panel in one app.

A few hosts now offer one-click installs for their economy packages. Check ’em out if you’re interested.


Published on: February 3,2014.

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