Blog ZeroEx

Bear Blog one month later

Last updated 11 May, 2021

I've used Bear for a month now. I originally gave it a try because I was looking to switch away from WordPress. Don't get me wrong: WordPress is pretty good. However, I've always felt that my WordPress blog was a little much in terms of visuals. WordPress is – like many websites – hamburger menus, fat JavaScript libraries, and fancy background images. I wanted something simpler and closer to the bare necessities (Motherfucking Website [📦] comes to mind).

Thus, I went to AlternativeTo [📦] and after some scrolling found Bear, and it looked pretty much like what I had in mind, so I gave it a try.

I'm quite pleased with that choice. This feels like something fresh. Perhaps ironically it's not because of what Bear has but because of what it doesn't have; no heavy CSS, no trackers, no dependency on scripts that offs the website should JavaScript be disabled, no cluttered design, no hijacking the reader's scrollbar. Bear has what's needed and almost nothing else.

I digress; this is not a rant about website design, and I don't look down on anyone who likes more fancy and visually stimulating websites.

Bear is simple to use and very scaled down. The post editor is a simple editable text box with Markdown support; a far cry from WordPress' bespoke "block editor". A criticism that could be made is that you pretty much lose the ability to make use of the semantics offered by HTML5 unless you're prepared to be heavy-handed in inferring what an author's intentions are when, say, adding bold or italic text. This might seem inconsequential but the semantics are useful for accessibility purposes.

Some customisation is offered: linking to CSS files and defining inline CSS. This is pretty neat and let's all websites have their own look while maintaining consistency in layout. An emoji can be set as the favicon, but I wish there was support for 1) emoji which are defined as sequences of two or more codepoints; 2) images as favicons. I can see why the latter is not supported: it eliminates the need to host images (the emoji are from the open source "twemoji" set and are pulled down on the fly). However, I think the option to link to an image to use as the favicon should be offered.

Reading Bear blogs is quite pleasant as, again, there's no visual clutter. The "Discovery" feed is alright and I browse the "New" section every day. There's also transparency regarding the algorithm used to determine "Top" posts, which I appreciate.

There actually is a way of following blogs: all Bear sites have a built-in RSS feed (available at the /feed, e.g. https://blogzeroex.bearblog.dev/feed). I didn't even know it was an option since it isn't prominently displayed anywhere from what I can tell. However, if you an RSS reader you can subscribe to Bear blogs that way. A built-in subscription feature and promotion of the RSS feed would be nice. For now I'll note the ability to subscribe to my blog on the home page.

To summarise: on the whole I'm positive about Bear as a blogging platform. It does have its share of things which I feel are missing, but its simplicity is quite appealing. If you just want a lightweight blog-site I wholeheartedly recommend it.

[🔗] The future of Blog ZeroEx

I've tried using Bear for a month now and I've found it to be a pleasant experience, and I intend to continue using it. I have a couple of posts which are ready to be put up in May: a post about how I don't drink coffee and of course the Swedish translation of the Communist Manifesto, which will be published tomorrow on the International Workers Day.

I haven't been too consistent with publishing dates, but I will try to have something up every week on Tuesday. For now it's goodbye and see you on the 1st of May.

#review #meta

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