As simple as possible, as complex as necessary

The simplicity of baked blogs

7 April 2011

My ears pricked up listening to the latest Sitepoint podcast when the discussion turned to a plea for baked weblogs issued by the author of NetNewsWire, Brent Simmons.

Can of baked beans, altered to read 'baked blogs'
Baked beans on blogs not toast(ed servers)

For this site my original intention was to use Blogger given that it was free and would save me having to write and host my own engine, or install and maintain a 3rd party tool. I'd previously recommended it to clients for the same reasons, but using it for myself made me realise just how complex it has become. And slow.

Given the focus on simplicity, I decided to walk the talk and start out with as simple a form as possible, only growing more complex when justified, even though this meant developing a custom engine.

Another decision to be made was whether to go dynamic or "baked".

The great thing about dynamic sites is that since each page is generated at request-time, the contents can vary according to circumstances: essential if you're offering personalisation or automation of any kind.

The downside is precisely that each page has to be pieced together by the application and database servers every time someone wants to see it. Not a problem under normal load, but Simmons is weary of being unable to read dynamic blogs that have been spotlighted and fail to handle the abnormally high traffic because of all the processing going on server-side for each and every request.

I have little fear of being "fireballed", but with no need for widgets, real-time tickers and other distractions I've gone with option 2 in Simmons's post: "Dynamic authoring, static publishing". The page you are reading is an HTML file pre-"baked" by the blog engine and sent directly via the web server. Extra complexity at creation time, but simplicity itself on delivery.

Of course on most blogs (this one included) it's nice to be able to support comments at least and that does require dynamic content and personalisation, but as the Sitepoint pundits pointed out this is easily achieved these days with cross-domain Javascript services such as Disqus. In fact surely most of the FaceTwit and other widgets you might justifiably want to include can be done client-side with a bit of statically served JS?

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