Step 2 is the hard part.

Matt Ginzton writes here.

From Tumblr to Octopress, Part 1: Why

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When I first started this blog, I set it up at Tumblr so I wouldn’t have to think about hosting it and could concentrate on writing.

I’ve since realized that Tumblr is a bad match. Among things that I prioritize higher than Tumblr evidently does, reliability ranks high on the list1, as do control over site structure and appearance. Tumblr themes allow some control over appearance — and there are some very nice ones — but not the structure2.

Among things that they care about that I do not are their web posting interface, iOS native clients, a plethora of post types designed to be slightly quicker if you want to post audio/picture/video/quote content3, and a follower system4.

So. On to Octopress. I get a lot more control over site structure, a more usable form of control over visual layout, and I can host it somewhere reliable (github for now, myself if I want to, and I can move hosting providers without having to do any deeper conversion).

  1. Reliability problems with Tumblr have been intermittent; sometimes it works fine, sometimes I get “the server returned no content” errors 10 times in a row before I can load a single page.

  2. Tumblr’s main navigational construct is a list of all posts sorted in descending order by posting date. Individual posts get permalinks, and there’s a very slow-loading calendar view which gives some semblance of an overall table of contents, but there’s no really usable way to do monthly archives or next/previous links to stitch time back together.

  3. All Tumblr posts have a URL, a title, and a body; what goes into the body can include really anything you can embed in a webpage, including audio and video. Presumably in an attempt to move beyond text-heavy blogging, in addition to letting you embed pictures/audio/video in a normal “text” post, Tumblr added these separate post types that special-case the body (the “link” post type makes the title into a navigable link; the “quote” type puts quotes around the body, etc). All of these are less general than the “text” type; they are also poorly represented in the API and, as I’ve found out, commensurately poorly handled by export tools. I dabbled in the special post types a few times, and am mostly sorry I did.

  4. Readers are unlikely to be Tumblr users; that’s what RSS is for.