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I’m pleased to be able to announce the launch of my new blog today. It’s up at markheath.net and hosted on Azure. The plan is to migrate away from my old blog on blogger, but probably for a while I’ll double post to both locations. Also, I’ve imported all my old posts from blogger, so everything is available on the new site.

If you want to subscribe, you can use my new feedburner URL: feeds.feedburner.com/soundcode. I’ll also be pointing my old feedburner feed for the blogger blog to point to markheath.net shortly, so if you subscribed using that, you should just get my new material.

Why MiniBlog?

After writing recently about my dilemma for what blogging platform to choose, I eventually opted to base my site on Mads Kristensen’s MiniBlog. This wasn’t the option that most people recommended to me, but it had several things in its favour.

First, it’s built with technologies I want to improve in. This is what set it apart from options like Wordpress (PHP and MySQL), Ghost (NodeJS and Postgres), or Jeckyl (Ruby). Though it would be cool to get some skills in those technologies at some point in the future, I’ve realised that life’s too short to become an expert in everything. So I’d rather the time I spend customising and troubleshooting my new blog contributes to me learning something closer to the top of my priority list.

Second, it’s small enough to get my head around. I do know a fair bit of ASP.NET but I don’t make websites as part of my day job, so it can sometimes be frustratingly slow to make the modifications I want to. MiniBlog does a lot with a very small amount of code, and it’s allowed me to quickly learn how it all works, and add in several customisations of my own (such as inserting an link to my NAudio Pluralsight course at the end of posts about NAudio).

Third, it uses XML files for posts. This made it very straightforward for me to create a tool migrate all my blogger posts into the MiniBlog format and check it all worked locally before pushing to Azure. I may move to a database at some point, but I also want to experiment with storing posts in MarkDown as well.

Fourth, it supports Windows Live Writer. WLW is a great blogging tool, but with a few rough edges. I’m really hoping Scott Hanselman succeeds in his quest to get it open sourced. It would be great to see features such as syncing drafts and custom dictionaries to the cloud, blogging in MarkDown, greater control over image and source code markup etc.

Why Disqus?

MiniBlog actually has fairly good built in comment support, and I initially indended to use that for comments since it allows me to be in full control of all my data. But the more I thought about it, the more Disqus makes sense. They get to solve the spam problem, and they get to handle notifying discussion participants of new messages. They also seem to be good at letting you export your comments, so the data still belongs to me. I had upgraded my Blogger blog comments to use Google+ a few months back and that is a big mistake. Now I don’t get notified when anyone comments on a post, and those comments don’t appear in the exported blog XML file, unlike the ones with the old method.

What’s Next?

I’ve still got a few features to add to the new site before it is on a feature par with the Blogger one. I want to enable searching the archives, and seeing the full categories list. I’ve also still got to add code syntax highlighting back in, although actually I think the default bootstrap styling of code isn’t too bad. Let me know if you encounter any issues with my new site.

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