Tom Gardiner

Why microlight was destined to fail

I've been wracking my brain about organising my digital life lately, and have come to realise that microlight was probably never going to work how I really wanted it to. I have over a decade of random files on various hard drives and would desperately like to consolidate them into a single archive that is designed for the present and the future.

Everyone has photos, videos, random files, and other memories stored in various different file formats. Using SQLite, microlight has a person's entire text content stored away in a single, encoded file. Pascal Hertleif, Jeff Huang, and even the creator of Micropub itself, Aaron Parecki, all use plain text files to manage their notes or daily journals. Whether you submit posts using micropub, commit them using git, or simply just edit them, having your content in a text file is, without a doubt, far simpler than a SQLite database.

I have avoided using static HTML files for my website for so long because it means if a new post is created, a new HTML file needs to be generated to reflect any changes. This also means if the theme changes, every post needs to be regenerated, too. However, this is simply not true. In a different post, Jeff Huang suggests that we should be creating websites that are designed to last. I will let you read the article for yourself, but my personal takeaway is that what I truly want out of my personal website is to not rely on any piece of software to generate the page for me, even if it is my own software. Software becomes abandoned, outdated, replaced, and, in my experience, using a custom format for content is not going to last for more than a couple of years at best. Using static HTML files is the best possible outcome, as it's been widely supported for decades, and considering just how important the web is I don't think that's going to change for a long time. Furthermore, not being attached to any one piece of software means the data is portable, and can be moved from server to server in the coming decades without a problem.

So, what does that mean for microlight? I had some nice features planned for it, like media embeds and attaching a location to posts. Can text files and static HTML files achieve this?

Only time will tell. I'm still thinking deeply about it.