Introducing fej.io & Ashor
posted on the 2nd of August, 2016

Hi, and thanks for reading. I've finally built a simple site I like, and now I can finally get around to writing a blog. I've had tons of stuff to write about, but just never got around to creating my site. ...I'm a perfectionist. That, and I have a lot of work to do. Mostly self-inflicted.

My blog is mostly going to revolve projects I create, challenges I face, neat stuff that happens to me, perhaps some rants... and who knows what else? This site is going to evolve over time, so I can't imagine what it'll look like too far into the future.

It's long past time to finish a bunch of projects on my backlog. This is my summer of doing.

Ashor, a dead-simple blogging platform

Simplicity is a virtue.

I could have used WordPress for this blog. However, WordPress is huge. Gigantic. My school newspaper uses it for its entire website. I wanted something straightforward, something that takes practically no effort to set up and get going.

To that end, I wrote Ashor - a really, really simple way to get blogging. It takes very little setup, and then just... get writing. Beyond that, it has also been a great exercise for myself (I now have a far better grasp of PHP's somewhat arcane syntax, among other things).

Programmers are nothing if not lazy; or, as one of my professors put it, "smart-lazy". For that reason, I didn't want to use Markdown. Why? It requires the use of the Shift key for really common operations, like italicizing. I realized that there are already perfectly good, largely-unused keys right in reach.

So, for Ashor, I wrote a different markup language. This is, in fact, the bulk of Ashor - at present, it more or less expands its markup language to HTML. It doesn't stipulate styles or how to lay out the content. That's up to the user. (Of course, "the bulk of" is a relative term. As of this writing, Ashor is under 200 lines of code.)

The language makes use of the backslash and bracket keys. Tags are all in the form of a backslash, followed by a letter. For example, \i italicizes text. Note that the backslash is a larger-than-average key on standard keyboards; this makes it easier to type tags. The universal closing tag is \]. As these keys are right next to each other, I find that they can be quickly struck using the pinky and ring fingers. Tags that require attributes (i.e. pictures) get brackets after them, for example \p[my-cat.jpg].

None of these operations require any modifier keys, and posts can easily be written in any basic text editor. I don't really expect anyone to use Ashor, but I'm having fun with it, so I'll be using it for the foreseeable future.

Ashor is up on GitHub here.