Back when Ghost was the hot new thing in the content management system world after an incredibly successful Kickstarter campaign, many of us wondered whether it would take the place of WordPress as the preeminent blogging platform. As it turns out, that didn’t happen. Instead, from a great start Ghost steadily developed into an excellent blog engine with a loyal following.
This month, after almost four years of development, Ghost reached a new milestone with the release of Ghost 1.0. That version number is slightly misleading because Ghost has been fully functional for several years, but arbitrary though it may be, the release presents an opportunity to take another look at Ghost and see where it is headed in the future.
The most obvious changes with this release are an updated interface and a new editor. The interface changes aren’t all that significant, focusing mainly on small visual enhancements and an improved publishing workflow. That’s fine with me because I’ve always been fond of Ghost’s user interface design.
When Ghost first made a splash, much of the attention was focused on mockups of a great looking analytics dashboard. Four years later, and we’re still waiting for that dashboard to appear. Ghost 1.0 doesn’t include the dashboard, and I think it’s probably best to acknowledge that it’s not coming anytime soon — if ever.
One of the most interesting parts of Ghost 1.0 isn’t obvious to the average user. The new Markdown editor is an improvement, but in reality it lays the foundation for more radical changes to come. Just like WordPress, Ghost’s future editor will be block based. Ghost 1.0’s Markdown editor is the text block of a future block-based editor, and we’re promised more blocks later this year.
In another welcome change, Ghost’s default Caspar theme has been given an overhaul. The sidebar is gone, and posts are displayed in a responsive grid on the home page. The posts themselves look good. Although I’m not fond of the current trend towards enormous body text, that’s easily fixed.
If you’re thinking of making the move to Ghost from a different content management system, you’ll be happy to hear that a new and improved importer is included. WordPress users can export their posts using the Ghost WordPress plugin, and then quickly import them right into Ghost.
I have followed Ghost since its early days as nothing more than a set of mockups and I am happy to see that, unlike a lot of KickStarter-funded projects, it’s still going strong. If you’re thinking of starting a new blog, and don’t need any of the extra functionality that comes along with WordPress, you can certainly do worse that giving Ghost a try. For Ghost hosting, we recommend a virtual private server.