Plerd: A blogging engine written in Perl

Plerd: A Dropbox-friendly Markdown blog platform

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Jason McIntosh had a problem: He'd gotten out of the habit of writing long-form blog posts. A decade before, he'd been a regular on LiveJournal, but that platform is getting a little long in the tooth, and he wanted something that was more in line with his current writing habits. As a fan of Markdown, he wanted something where he could just drop Markdown files in a spot, and the blog would be built from those.

So he wrote Plerd. Written in Perl, Plerd can be told to watch a Dropbox-synched directory with the plerdwatcher daemon, which will republish files as it sees changes. In McIntosh's words, "This is where the magic happens." If you have the Dropbox daemon running, then to make a post, you just create a Markdown (.md) file with a title: header in the first line, drop it in your Dropbox, which you can do from just about anywhere, and your blog gets updated immediately with the new set of static pages.

Plerd generates static HTML from the Markdown files, and can be given a set of templates, so you can customize your blog to your liking. The included set of templates comes with simple CSS embedded in a page wrapper, which you could easily put in an external file if you desired. It also includes Bootstrap CSS, and a DuckDuckGo-based search bar, to get you started on setting things up.

So why build another blog engine, with so many out there already? I saw Jason speak at YAPC::NA this past summer, and he explained it using a bagged-salad analogy. Yes, buying your lettuce and other salad greens fresh is cheaper—but if a bag of salad means you'll eat more salad, it may well be worth it. Spending the effort to make Plerd work the way he wanted to write made it possible for him to write more, and thus was totally worth the effort.

Also, newer blogging platforms tend to be social networks as much as they are blogs, and that was not what he was seeking. Jason just wanted a place to share his writings, not to socialize; he is already an active Twitter user, so did not need another social network to cultivate.

Another nice feature—from my perspective as a long-time system administrator—is that Plerd does not have a lot of moving parts. Setting up the Dropbox and plerdwatcher daemons is easy and quick, and you see results immediately. You don't get a "Dashboard" full of sometimes confusing options, no comment spam, and no plugins to set up and regularly update—it's a bare-screws, stripped-down blog platform dedicated to writing.

This resonates with me, as a writer myself. While I absolutely adore comments on my various writings here at Opensource.com, I don't feel a compelling need to socialize in the comment space; I have Facebook for that. I have another blog that I write on from time to time, and it's mostly book reviews. It seems to me that Plerd could be extended to do automation that I need for that blog, so I may give it a try some time.

If you're looking for a super-lightweight blogging platform that doesn't get in the way of your writing, give Plerd a try. You can find Plerd at GitHub. Jason McIntosh's Plerd-powered blog is at blog.jmac.org.

About the author

Ruth Holloway - Ruth Holloway has been a system administrator and software developer for a long, long time, getting her professional start on a VAX 11/780, way back when. She spent a lot of her career (so far) serving the technology needs of libraries, and has been a contributor since 2008 to the Koha open source library automation suite.cvRuth is currently a Perl Developer at cPanel in Houston. You can find out more about Ruth's passions and career at her site....