A few months ago I started working on a blog platform for myself that quickly evolved into a larger product that I decided I would try to productionalize. The following is a blog post called "Just a blog" that I wrote over on the offical TryCompose.com blog.
Just a blog
Over the last 5 years or so, Ive often found myself bouncing from blog platform to blog platform in search of something that will make me happy. Ive hosted my own Wordpress blog, Ive used Tumblr, Ive tried Github pages, and Ive built my own blogging "engines" probably about three times by now (usually its to learn something new). But now I decided that Im tired of moving around from place to place and want to build something that not only meets my needs, but hopefully (at least some of) the needs of the community as well.
Just a blog
For years, Wordpress has been the go-to for blog platforms. It's a veteran, (mostly) stable, has a shit load of plugins for basically everything you need, any theme you can think of, and you can customize it. All if you want to host and manage it yourself. Wordpress.com does exist, but for the free version it has ads and is very limiting in that you cant install themes (you have to use what they have), you cant use any plugins, you cant use your own domain and you can't use Google Analytics.
Thats a problem....
Wordpress has become a great extendable content management system. People even go so far as to abuse and hack it into something completely different entirely. This problem needs solving...
So here is what I think would be features to have a great blogging platform, and ONLY a blogging platform.
As much as I like tending to servers from time to time, I dont want to think about a blog server. Running your own server means you have to not only keep your blog platform up to date, but keep the entire machine (or virtual machine) up to date and secure. I dont want to worry about that. I want to click a button and start writing.
Wordpress really shows its age with it's old rich text/html post editor. HTML is a pain to write for anyone, especially when using it to format a blog, and I dont want to have to click on various modifier buttons to format my content. Markdown is great in that it's simple and intuitive enough for anyone to learn and doesn't break the writing flow.
Take ownership of your brand/identity
I want to be able to use my own domain without paying some fee. I dont want a subdomain, I want MY domain. I also want to be able to own the content I create and take it with me anywhere I go should I choose to switch platforms.
A lot of hosted platforms (aside from Github pages) dont provide support for syntax highlighted code blocks by default. Definitely something that I would love to have.
Google Analytics is definitely a heavyweight in the world of web analytics as its super simple to setup and use. Just let me enter in my sites ID and start tracking stuff. Dont give me some half-assed baked in solution. Give me the option to use what I want.
Content that looks great
This is an area that I think Medium and Svbtle accel at. Both format your writing in a way that is free of distractions and very easy to read. They both have some drawbacks (Medium lacks control over your personal brand, and Svbtle is invite-only), but they both have a really great content consumption experience. I dont care if your platform has a million themes if theyre all crap. Give me a choice between a few themes that look great.
Generally I like to include images with various posts, so a way to upload and manage files would be a great feature. This simplifies things greatly as it means I dont need to upload things to thrid parties or try and host them myself on a private file server.
Shut up and take my money
Let me pay for a service like this. Make it affordable, but let me throw money at you so I can have it. I fully believe that services that charge for their product end up being better in the end because they manage to weed out users that expect everything for nothing and can provide great support and features to those that really want to support the product.
Compose strives to include all of the features listed above and that is just the beginning. Over the coming weeks, we'll be opening up a free beta for people to try out so that we can gather feedback to make the platform even better. If you're interested in getting access to the beta, head on over to the signup page, provide us with your email, and we'll let you know when you can start using it!