Hugo if You Want To
“ Moving my Blog from Tumblr to Hugo”

One of the things I want to get done, now I’ve got time to work on my own projects again, is to bring a lot of my various ‘web presences’ back under my control again –and also to update and [in some cases] add content to the sites, many of which have been sadly neglected of late.

One of the first ‘guinea pigs’ for the challenge was to get this blog out of Tumblr which, although it had its useful aspects [ie. Student PDPs, collation of] while I was teaching, regularly drove me mad with its hideous user interface and general ‘tackyness’. I’m also getting increasingly wary of having my ‘stuff’ depend on other companies. I want to “take the power back, mo’ fo’!”.

I also decided that I wanted to take a look at building this blog using a Static Site Generator, the web design quivalent of ‘fixie’ bike riding. In a tangential move, I’ve also been meaning to do a bit of dabbling with learning Golang. So I thought I might combine the two crazy notions by looking for an SSG written in Golang. There aren’t actually that many Golang-powered SSGs about, but I did find a couple. The one which I liked the look of most was Hugo, so that’s what I decided to use.

It’s taken me about a week to sook all the content of this blog off Tumblr and regenerate it with Hugo and host it on my own server. That week has been one of the most tedious, repetitive and downright boring I’ve spent in a long time. I can take the odd boring task on the chin most of the time but, given that the whole point of computers is to enable us to quickly and accurately accomplish repetitive tasks, I find it ten times as annoying when I have to do some moronic repeating task on a computer than I do in the ‘Real World’. I keep thinking “Fucking computer. You can see what I’m doing over and over again here. Why can’t you do it for me?!”

I won’t go into all the details of the painful tomrent I’ve just been through, as it’s still too fresh in the mind, but a few bullet points should give a flavour.

In the end, I had to go through each one of my posts individually [176 of them in all!], manually tweaking and fixing each one and also correcting the image links so that they pointed to local copies of the images, rather than the ones still on Tumblr. I also had to visit Tumblr and download several of the images which had mysteriously not been downloaded by Jekyll-Import. While I was at it, I availed of the chance to rename all my local images to something a bit more relevant to their containing post, as their Tumblr names were monstrosities like 45tv234456g3ye4q5b1y2y.jpg

PHEW! –If I’d had an inkling of what a complete and utter ball-ache that was going to be, before I started, I don’t think I would have bothered. But it’s done now and all my former Tumblr posts are safely converted to Markdown with TOML configuration headers and all my ‘assets’ are saved locally. All my assets that is apart from embedded videos, which are still either on Vimeo or YouTube. Eventually I’d like to grab them myself too, so I can be completely free of dependencies on other sites. But I think I’ll leave that for another day, lest I lose what’s left of my sanity.

At the moment this site is a bit of a mess visually: I’ve just knocked together a very quick theme in Hugo, which makes it look superficially somewhat like the old one, but I’ve not done anything yet to address how I’m goingh to deal with my images. Many of them were embedded in the old Tumblr posts as slideshows, so now they’re all just arrayed in a long ugly line down the page here. But at least I’ve got the ‘grunt work’ out of the way, by getting my ‘stuff’ out of Tumblr. Now the more creative fun can begin!

[Incidentally, some of the old posts imported from Tumblr are irretrievably broken. For a while in the past I used a free image storage service called Droplr to host images embedded in my blog posts on Tumblr. Then one day the feckers turned round and said that all the free accounts were cancelled and follks would have to pay to retain access to their images. Needless to say I told the shifty bastards to fuck off but, unfortunately it means some of the old posts have permanently lost their illustrations. Oh well. Another example of the folly of relying on other people/companies to host your content for you. From now on I’m making sure i’ve got my own independent alternative!]

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