Why Pelican

Image: The White Pelican in flight.
Image: The Majestic White Pelican in Flight

The software that creates this blog out of plain text (Markdown) is called Pelican (an anagram of calepin which is French for notebook).

Ours is a world full of highly popular services like Medium, WordPress and even LinkedIn all promising to make your blogging experience easy and fantastic. So then, why Pelican?

It's Transparent
It's Fun

It's Transparent

Transparency comes first because, to me, it is the most important.

The words I type here are not commercially generated marketing tools, they are my children. Like my children, I do not package them up and ship them off to a boarding school where unseen and unknown forces mold and shape them into something I cannot inspect. I keep them close, and do my best to ensure I have constant access to them, and reasonable control over how they are handled.

Pelican does that for me.

Editing is in either ReStructuredText or Markdown, both of which are done in the editor of my choice.
Content is stored locally until I'm ready to send it to the web server.
There is no requirement for any sort of middle-man. If a middle-man does exist, it's a matter of convenience.

Pelican's processes are immediate and straightforward, and you have the ability to dig into the mechanisms anytime you please.


To a large degree, Pelican's transparency exists because it is free open-source software. The FOSS nature of Pelican brings all the goodness of openness to the system. There are no hidden agendas, nobody is working to monetize your work unless, of course, it's you.

The lack of cost means no one is denied the opportunity to get their voice heard on the global stage of the Internet simply because they don't have a certain amount of money. At least, it won't be the cost of quality blogging software that will stand in their way. FOSS is an equalizer of sorts. I like that.

It's Fun

Learning is my number one hobby. All the various things I'm involved in are hobbies, but each of those is not my hobby, really. It's the learning that occurs when I'm doing those things that is my real hobby.

Writing this blog is a way of logging things I've learned; not to call attention to my brilliance, but to drive stakes in the ground to mark where I've been. It is a repository of detail. A vacuum-packed canister of process and product.

The writing is even more fun when the mechanisms of the blogging process are unlocked and open to inspection. Pelican takes what would otherwise be merely another manufactured tool and lets it be a solveable mystery. Something that otherwise would be only used can now be learned. It can be disassembled, examined, tweaked and experimented upon. I can break it as many times as I wish, and it won't cost me anything but time.

This is how I learn. This is fun!

So, Why Pelican?

I love the way it looks right out of the box. The default theme is clean, bringing focus to the words on the page and, to the degree I choose, to the images I choose to put there.

I love how knowable the innards of the system are. And once grasped, I love how simple it is to tweak the templates to produce what I want to see.

I love how few assumptions are being made for me by other people. The framework is provided, and if I want social, I add social. Want comments? Add them. If I want pictures, I add that. The plugin ecosystem gets the job done and does it well.

Don't see a plugin that does what you want? Make one. Want a different theme? Create it!

Pelican is everything I want and nothing I don't. In my way of seeing things, that's about as good as it gets.

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