Hello JotterPad X + Dropbox + Jekyll

Posted July 12, 2014

I always wanted to maintain a blog/simple website but I wanted also to host it myself. I tried several CMS (Wordpress, Drupal) and even wiki engines (Mediawiki, dokuwiki), I liked them all but it was completely overkill for my needs. I wanted for my blog something :

  • Simple
  • Easy to maintain
  • Accessible from my smartphone

I discovered new approaches to generates websites like using purely git to store contents. Also new formats for writing content became popular. Markdown is now overly used in readmes, documentations and in many website or web applications.

The global idea

Vim is currently my default editor. I wanted to write my blog posts with it so I decided to use a plain text format to store my content. I chose Markdown because there is multiple applications that support it.

Here is my ideal workflow to publish a blog post :

  • The blog post is written with Markdown with Vim or an Android compatible editor
  • Blog posts are synchronised between devices (computers and smartphone using cloud storage)
  • Blog posts must be versioned using git and published with a simple git push and a hook
  • A static website generator hosted in a cloud instance must be notified by the git hook

Software and technologies

I already mentioned Vim, git and Markdown as requirements. I still needed to chose something for the cloud storage, website hosting and the android application.

For cloud storage, for synchronizing blog posts between all my devices, I chose Dropbox over Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive and Amazon S3. Google Drive is obviously more integrated with Android but the integration with my Linux desktop isn’t easy. Dropbox is a nice compromise. It supports Linux and Android natively. About OneDrive, the web interface is the only thing I like. For Amazon S3, I love all the possibilities and APIs but it’s not free and a little bit too complex for my need.

I am use to dedicated servers but currently I have an unused Amazon EC2 micro instance thanks to AWS Free Usage Tier program. In the future, I may switch back to an dedicated server.

About the Android application, I needed a simple editor that support Markdown and Dropbox. I found JotterPad on Google Play Store. At the time I evaluated it, it was the most popular Markdown editor and having good reviews. Some limitations I have with it :

  • Markdown preview is a quite expensive in-app purchase (I bought it anyway)
  • It doesn’t support Markdown extras (tables)
  • I can’t open markdown files in markdown preview by default

Nowadays there is a lot of static site generators. I chose the the one which has the biggest number of stars on GitHub : Jekyll. It is also the one which runs GitHub’s static websites so I believe this piece of ruby software is worth to study. I don’t use a vanilla Jekyll, I found a nice Jekyll theme called Layon.


Everything works fine. I don’t have any problem with this system and I’m very happy with it.

author Philippe LewinWritten by Philippe Lewin, French Software Engineer. twitter