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Moving from TechNet blogs to Jekyll on Windows Azure

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For nearly a decade, I’ve been occasionally blogging on the Exchange Team Blog, and later on my personal TechNet blog. Those platforms are stable, easy to use, and perfectly acceptable. But they’re not much fun. I want something I can tweak, break, and put back together again.

Now that cloud hosting has become so cheap (free web sites on Windows Azure!) and managing/updating a web site has become so easy (deployment from GitHub or a local Git repository!), I’ve decided to try blogging on a platform that is basically the complete opposite of every other major blogging platform.

It’s called Jekyll, and it’s the platform used for GitHub Pages. What makes it so different is that your blog is a static site - it’s just html and css files sitting on disk, which are served up to the browser as-is. No controllers, no server-side view engine, and no database. To add a new blog post, you literally just drop a text file in a folder, and run Jekyll to update the html files. Done.

A complex content management system with an underlying database, such as Wordpress, is more user-friendly as a hosted solution. However, when you’re running the site yourself, all that complexity can make for a lot of extra work. Being able to manage my blog posts by just altering text files in a folder is pretty amazing.

Did I mention it also has code highlighting for practically every language under the sun, including Powershell? Now when I post a script that is a hundred lines long, it might actually be somewhat readable.

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if ($ExchangeServer -eq "")
{
# Choose a PF server
$pfdbs = Get-PublicFolderDatabase
if ($pfdbs.Length -ne $null)
{
$ExchangeServer = $pfdbs[0].Server.Name
}

Alright, I’ve gushed about Jekyll enough. If you’re interested in a different kind of blogging platform, go check it out. Otherwise, stay tuned for more Exchange-related posts.