New Blog Software Again!

I've been using tumblr for awhile and while its useful when posting random stuff I should've posted to Facebook instead (images, links, videos, etc.), writing my text in HTML was just icky. Markdown isn't a huge improvement and I was really itching to write all my posts in reST as I already know it quite well from writing my docs using Sphinx.

I considered using blogofile, but it seems to be abandoned and it's not trivial to add normal reST style code highlighting. Then I saw tinkerer, which is basically just a few extensions on top of Sphinx... perfect!

The Migration

For anyone considering migrating from tumblr, here's my simple dump script that pulled all my posts I cared about out of tumblr and dropped them into directories for tinkerer :

import json
import re
import os
import subprocess

import requests

date_regex = re.compile(r'(?P<year>\d{4})-(?P<month>\d{2})-(?P<day>\d{2})')

def pull_posts(blog, api_key):
    api_url = ''
    call_url = api_url % (blog, api_key)
    r = requests.get(call_url)
    posts = json.loads(r.content)
    return posts

def html2rst(html):
    p = subprocess.Popen(['pandoc', '--from=html', '--to=rst'],
                         stdin=subprocess.PIPE, stdout=subprocess.PIPE)
    return p.communicate(html)[0]

def dump_posts(posts):
    post_links = []
    for post in posts:
        if post['type'] not in ['text']:
        d = date_regex.match(post['date']).groupdict()
        os.system("mkdir -p %s/%s/%s" % (d['year'], d['month'], d['day']))
        slug = post['post_url'].split('/')[-1].replace('-', '_')
        link = '%s/%s/%s/%s' % (d['year'], d['month'], d['day'], slug)
        bar = '=' * len(post['title'])
        with open('%s.rst' % link, 'wb') as f:
            print post
            f.writelines([post['title'].encode('utf-8'), '\n', bar, '\n\n'])
            if post['type'] == 'text':
                body = html2rst(post['body'].encode('utf-8').replace('’', "'"))
                f.writelines([body, '\n\n'])
            elif post['type'] == 'link':
                desc = html2rst(post['description'].replace('’', "'").encode('utf-8'))
                f.writelines(['Link: `%s <%s>`_\n\n' % (post['title'].encode('utf-8'), post['url'].encode('utf-8'))])
                f.write(desc + '\n\n'),
                '.. author:: default\n', '.. categories:: %s\n' % ', '.join(post['tags']),
                '.. comments::\n', '   :url: %s' % post['post_url']
    return post_links

It's quite nice that I get all the Sphinx extensions for use in my blog, and there's no more mental context switching to write a blog post vs. writing project documentation for my open-source projects.

Dropping a graphviz diagram into my blog also became trivial.

graph LR;
    A[awesome] --> B[sphinx]
    B --> A
    B --> D[tinkerer]

The Bad News

It's not perfect, tinkerer is still very beta. But I can wrap my head around it, and its easy to extend. I've already made a little modification in my own fork which allows me to specify URL's for the comments to ensure I get the right disqus threads on the old blog posts I ported. This wasn't a flawless process due to how the main reactions and comments thing on the main pages look, they're a bit off for the legacy posts... but at least the comments and such show up fine once you click in so I'll live with it.

There's no category specific RSS feeds at the moment, so I'll need to hack that in so that I can get relisted on the Python aggregators. I also will likely update the theme, right now I'm just using 'minimal' which isn't bad.

Since this is more for just posts, I dropped the other tumblr things like links and videos to retain just content. I don't think this is too negative but some might want all the types tumblr supports.

Overall, I'm quite happy with it thus far. We'll see how I feel in a few months, and hopefully I'll be blogging more since there's less friction involved since I get to use the Sphinx tools I'm quite familiar with.

Ben Bangert
Ben Bangert
Software Contriver

Code. Homebrew. Hike. Rollerblade.