I decided to try out the venerable Octopress recently. I've been fascinated by static site generators for a while and since I run this site on Jekyll, the foundation for Octopress, I thought I'd dig around a bit and see what was what.
A Critique Born From Love
I'm going to be critical of Octopress here but I hope to not just troll. I played around with it a bit and these were my experiences, whether they're right, wrong, accurate, or totally stupid is immaterial. I learned a lot from just digging around in Octopress and I'm fucking stoked that it exists. But man…
So Many Tentacles
Like, a ton of tentacles. There's so much going on in Octopress that's near inscrutable at times. It's a complicated beast that does a lot of complicated stuff to bolt nice features onto Jekyll but I had a hard time wrapping my head around it because it seems so… well… bolted on.
Check out the category generator and tell me if you can make heads or tails of that. I can't, or more accurately, I'd rather not. How about the setup process, wherein you clone the entire repository (and therefore its history) into your site? Now, assuming I get to the point where I'd like to look through my history of changes, I'll see a huge backlog of completely irrelevant commits that I didn't make. It's not a deal breaker by any means, but it's annoying.
Jekyll is straight forward enough and single-purposed enough that I can grok it and work within its limitations. Octopress seems like it's trying to be everything and in doing so, approaches inscrutability.
That Fuckin’ Rakefile
This is really what blew me away: it rewrites itself during execution. The Rakefile rewrites itself while it's parsing itself!! WAT? I'm impressed, seriously. That's a ballsy move.
I've not really got an endgame here, I just found the whole experience interesting.