How my blog evolved in 5 years

Early times

My first article dates back to May 2015. I was writing on Blogger at the time. I enjoyed the simplicity of themes, maintainance and writing in pure Html.

I write in french, and I still do it sometimes. But most of my posts are in english. It helps me practice technical writing.

Yet I did not like the lack of extendability and control. I only wrote two posts there, it was easy to plan a migration. I decided to host wordpress on an EC2 instance.

Wordpress is an awesome tool. It is modern. The editor is great. Themes are very easy to extend. Plugins are legions and provide great insights.

Wordpress has one drawback: I could not find code highlighting that is pretty. I find WP-syntax ugly and alternatives are not configurable to my liking.

It is mid-2016 and it's time for another migration: let's choose another hosting strategy.

I already have an EC2 instance, nginx and HTTPS configured. So I figure I only need to replace wordpress with my own application. What a good idea to code an CMS by myself! (no)

The overengineering

The stack consists of the language I was learning at the time: Elixir. Erlang runtime is awesome and Phoenix framework is incredibly powerful. I use a CQRS approach, a pJax for loading speed and a React application for the backoffice. The migration is done by querying the api of wordpress for the articles.

I enjoy a lot the idea of creating my own website from the ground up. I register the current domain ( and remove the original blog title. I is not "Machiavel and Software" anymore, welcome to "Sadraskol".

I have a lot of joy for all the technologies I use on the blog. I am proud of the over-engineering mess. But gosh, it is such a hurdle to maintain all these components to generate Html pages and redirects.

With time, I start to change the goal of stack to make it simpler to maintain. Goodbye the search powered by elasticsearch. Goodbye combined Html and Markdown support, every post is migrated to markdown only. Goodbye the React backoffice, welcome to a simpler textarea to write markdown. Goodbye pjax, the application returns simple Html instead.


The goal of my blog becomes clearer. It used to be a playground to learn new technologies. From now on, it's the backbone to highlight my content.

The refactor of the blog is inline with the new goal: simple list of articles, clear and sober pink. I switch to rust (couldn't resist it, shame on me). I introduce syntax highlighting generated on the server side to get rid of any javascript. Last but not least, I drop event-sourcing in favor of a state-centric data structure of the articles.

There is a single thing left to do: drop databases, and serve Html directly. It would be the final step for my blog. My inspiration was the simplicity of Hugo. We used it to publish the minutes of Lyon's software crafter community. It convinced me it was the right approach.

From now on the blog does not serve any javascript. CSS is embedded in every page. It is faster than the overengineering mess and maintainable.

I don't think this approach is great for dynamic web applications. Rendering every interaction on the server means that you sacrifice some flexibility. If you don't think so, look at my syntax highlighter. Blogs usually embed a javascript snippet that highlights <pre><code> blocks in the page. If you want no javascript on the frontend, good luck implementing a highlighter in your markdown engine... Unless you use nodejs on the backend, but this is quite a constraint if you started with another language.

Final words

I hope you enjoy the experience navigating on my blog. It was a long trip. After reinventing the wheel a couple of times, it is running a badly copy of Hugo. Yes, but it's my blog and I am really happy with how it is now.

If I have a single advice for anyone who wants to get into a blog it's this:
Use the technology you are comfortable with and that is aligned with your goals. At the begining this blog was a playground for me. The overengineering was made on purpose. Now that the content and the writing is my goal, the platform serve that purpose only.

Happy writing, and I hope you take as much fun as I do running this blog.