Extremely minimal blogging with WriteFreely

Loving the explosion of IndieWeb activity. For fun I decided to try out WriteFreely, a really minimal blog with ActivityPub features.

Short summary of WriteFreely

Cartoon bear at the computer (generated by Midjourney v4)WriteFreely is a “distraction free” blogging platform that people can follow on Mastodon, Pleroma or other ActivityPub services.

It’s written in Go, and consists of a single binary that you can run alone or with a MySQL backend. (Uses SQLite if you don’t opt for MySQL, which is probably just fine for a single-user setup.)

If you just want to test it out, you can set it up and start playing with it in just a few minutes. I slapped the binary on a test server and spun it up in single user configuration in less than five minutes.

Configuring for multiple users and blogs might be a bit more complicated, but I suspect you could set up an instance for multiple users and all the trimmings (like encryption with Let’s Encrypt and OAuth for authentication), in a few hours if you’ve got experience with such things already. A little longer if you’re new to system administration.

You can also opt to sign up for an inexpensive WriteFreely account or even multi-user hosting with your own domain.

Blogging experience

If minimal, Markdown-based blogging scratches your itch then you should check this out. It’s a nice middle option between a static site generator and a full-blown blogging platform like WordPress.

Once you’re logged in, you’re presented with a minimal web-based editor that lets you just churn out Markdown and save as a draft or publish.

If you want images, they need to be saved elsewhere and linked to by URI. For formatting, you get whatever Markdown gives you. Whether this is a feature or bug depends entirely on your needs and desires. Minimalism has its appeal, but I do like adding images to posts without much hassle.

WriteFreely would make a great microblog / Mastodon alternative if all you want to do is publish to users via ActivityPub. It doesn’t quite fit the bill for read/write activities though, which is too bad. I’d love something as simple to set up as WriteFreely to do both.

I might return to WriteFreely for other applications. I can see using it for another project where I just want to bang out minimal updates quickly.

If you don’t have a blog yet and are on the hunt to claim your own space post-Twitter, I’d recommend giving it a shot.



Leave a Reply