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ghost-a-review

A review of Ghost and how to install it on your windows localhost

Even though the installation process of Ghost is very clearly explained on their own website, in this article, am going to explain how you can get Ghost up and running on your localhost and then give my views on it.

Ghost is a new blogging platform recently launched for the public. As per the organization’s description of the product, it is a platform dedicated to do just one thing: Publishing. It’s a beautifully designed, completely customisable and completely Open Source platform. The best part about Ghost is that it’s all about the beauty and some really quick features. It’s based on NodeJS and this makes it really fast. I love the editor in the backend because it gives you a real time preview of what you are typing and what it will look like in the front end. This gives you the ability to concentrate on what you are writing without worrying about how it will format itself.

Even though the installation process of Ghost is very clearly explained on their own website, in this article, am going to explain how you can get Ghost up and running on your localhost and then give my views on it.

Step 1: Download Ghost and install Node.js

Register on Ghost.org. From the dashboard of Ghost, proceed to their Github account and download the latest version of their code.

Download Ghost from GitHub

 

You might also need to install GIT Bash or any other command line interface for windows like puTTY

Along with this, you also need to install the dependencies like Node.JS. For this just visit the Node.js website and download the respective installer for windows. Installing NodeJS on Windows is as easy as click of a button :)

Step 2: Setup environment

Once you have installed Node.js, it’s time to get Ghost up and running. So first of all extract downloaded Ghost files.

The Ghost Directory

Move all the Ghost files to the respective folder where you want to install Ghost. People who are familer with working on WAMP for windows, normally, all the PHP files go into the www directory of your local server installation. In this case, you can keep it in any folder you want on your localhost. Essentially, you can create a folder dedicated to your NodeJS based applications.

Step 3: Install Ghost

Go to that folder from your command line interface. NodeJS is only the server for the Ghost application. There are a lot of other dependencies which are being used to make it run. These dependencies can be found in the package.json file located in the Ghost directory.

Ghost Dependencies - npm install

As with any other NodeJS app, we have to install all the dependencies by using the command

npm install --production

Once all the dependencies are installed, you can start the server by writing the command

Start Ghost

Step 4: Configure the Ghost Blog

After the server has started, visit the URL mentioned in the command prompt. You will see that the Ghost blog is up and running!

Ghost - A blogging Platform

To visit the backend dashboard for Ghost, you can append /ghost/ to the URL. You will be taken to registration screen because you are visiting the backend for the first time.

ghost-signup

On signing up you can easily visit the backend of this new blogging platform and enjoy playing around with this new toy! :)

My Review of Ghost

ghost-article-preview

First of all, I would like to state that I wrote this article on my local installation of Ghost it self and it was an amazing experience. Though I found some of the features to be really intrusive of the whole amazing writing experience. Here are some of the drawbacks which I found:

Drawbacks

Even though the preview panel is one of the best features I liked about Ghost, it can be a real pain if you are writing a lot of content. Both the screens are suppose to be in sync while scrolling but it soon goes out of sync if you insert a lot of images. The images are not visible on the editor region where as, they are visible on the preview panel. This results in the difference in height of both the panels and hence skews up the scroll syncing in-between them.

There is no visible option to hide the preview pane.

Every single letter you type kind of refreshes the complete preview panel. This makes the preview pane flicker a lot while you are typing and kind of distracts you from your main purpose i.e. writing.

If you add a lot of images to the content, the flickering of the preview panel will give you a very laggy experience over all. Specially, if you are deleting a lot of content using backspace, you might over delete some of the content because of this lag. Being a product  specifically meant for writing and publishing, this is something they should be looking at optimizing really soon.

For some reason I did not find any spelling correct or error identifying feature on the editor. Being a primary content focused platform I think this should be a must feature.

One other draw back is that Ghost is based on NodeJS as the platform’s core. This ensures that it won’t be that easily deployable on any simple shared hosting solutions out there as compared to how easy deploying WordPress is. But am sure that is going to change over time and they already have a one click deploy solution for other NodeJS supported hosting solutions.

Things I liked

The content and the preview section looks really beautiful. The auto sync feature of the content and the preview is really amazing and gives you a preview of how your content will get formatted in the front end.

There are a bunch of shortcuts also available which will ensure that adding links, formatting headings and paragraphs will become as easy as pressing two-three keys together. The whole platform is based on NodeJS and hence opens up the possibility of a lot of new technology features being introduced in the field of writing blog articles!

The whole application is really beautiful. Customizing the user profile and the blog settings is very easy for a new user. Also, the post editor is really simple when you compare it to the most famous publishing platform, WordPress.

User Profile

Conclusion

I have noticed that a lot of people have been comparing Ghost and WordPress a lot. In my opinion, WordPress has gone past just a blogging platform and is way more than that. It can be stated as a matured CMS along with an application platform, which can be used to build a lot of complex functionalities in half the time.

I believe that Ghost’s sole purpose is to be a really simple publishing platform and it serves that purpose really well. It still needs some more time to mature and build an eco system around it, but I think it can reach that stage soon.

A great combination would be the Ghost’s UI element and the writing experience merged with WordPress’ amazing functionality. Am sure a plugin or something will soon come out bridge this gap :)

Try out Ghost. I would love to know your views on it.


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