You may remember that I skipped one week of posting, because WordPress.com has a broken editor that does not work with Windows and US International keyboard. The bug is still there, a new minor version of the Gutenberg editor was released, but the problem was not addressed. Upstream developers I’m told are looking into it, but given the first reply from them has been to tell me that it works fine for them on Mac, I’m not holding my breath.
So I decided to throw away the €24 remaining from my Personal subscription to WordPress.com, and migrate to a Gandi Simple Hosting installation instead. Turns out that, despite what the “Happiness Engineer” told me yesterday, the bug does not affect the whole “WordPress platform”, since you don’t need to install the Gutenberg plugin at all, and you can rely on the older version bundled with WordPress itself, which does not have this bug at all.
It took me about a day to figure out all of the setup to export one, import the other, set up everything to look as close as it used to, and deploy again. In particular the Web-based import failed for me all the time, because I just have that many blog post (I can only imagine what Scalzi would get), but it worked out in the end, since Gandi gives me access to an “emergency console” over SSH.
The most annoying corner cases were with trying to make the switchover as seamless as possible: because I was trying to switch flameeyes.blog from being a WordPress.com site to an external site (with Jetpack), I had to accept some downtime, as WordPress.com would get thoroughly confused on who was serving what for it. Right now I think everything is set up correctly.
Now, since I have full control on plugins, it means I need to experiment a bit to make sure everything behaves the way I want. And it means I can actually replace some of the WordPress forced integrations with more useful ones for myself personally. I decided to start by adding a Facebook Messenger integration, that’s because IRC is basically dead, and while I still get requests by email from time to time, if you’re trying to reach me in pseudo-realtime, this is possibly the easiest option I can give people.
Also this is a reminder of what I already ranted, which is my opinion that the fact that you cannot even pay for a good blogging platform nowadays. My workflow is not that outrageously niche: I just want to type in blogs with Windows and an US International layout keyboard. Changing layout is not great, because I would keep typing extraneous spaces around the dead keys, but that’s literally the only option that WordPress.com gave me! They can’t downgrade the Gutenberg plugin, or rollback the change that broke this. Until I pointed out that for three weeks they have left me with a broken workflow, with no estimate of when it would get fixed, and without even trying to entice me to stay on the platform, they didn’t even consider offering me a few free months to cover for the problem.
Obviously, Scalzi has a different experience, but he’s also a much larger profile customer than lowly me. But if you keep wondering why blogs end up disappearing… don’t discount the annoyance of keeping up with tools that keep expanding in different directions than small-fry blogging.