// 2021-04-11 // by Neon
This month a new redesign launched for Neosynth. I'd like to take a moment to talk through some of the changes as they compare to the old site and the thoughts behind them.
While the old site was created in Ghost, the new Neosynth is built on top of a homebrew simple site framework called WebmasterCMS (which I've posted up on Github in case you'd like to use it yourself).
At first glance you'll notice that the new Neosynth sports a much simpler design than the old site, and that's no mistake. A primary goal of the redesign was to embrace traditional web design practices to evoke the brutalist aesthetic of a nineties cyberpunk future.
While simplistic archaic compared to the functionality available in the prior Ghost platform, the Neosynth redesign paradoxically gives significantly more control and makes for a more agile platform than Ghost could ever be in several ways.
The wmcms platform that Neosynth runs on is built on supports any choice of directory structure, with no limits on the kinds of pages or folders can be included as posts and pages within the site itself. This enables the use of a more sane tree-style page hierarchy, compared to Ghost's tendency to throw all the pages in the site root.
Ultimately, the new platform means that as Neosynth grows, it can remain organised through a more intuitive and flexible structure than Ghost could bring to the table
It's true that Ghost supports json exports of its content, however this exports all content, not just specific posts. To make matters worse, images are stored completely separate from posts and all just lumped into one big folder together for the whole site. Absolute organisational nightmare, if you ask me.
Posts within WebmasterCMS are completely self-contained, with post bodies and all associated content stored within their designated directory. This means that exporting any page from this site is as easy as just copying or moving its folder somewhere else. Simplicity at its finest!
All pages in wmcms are written natively in HTML, with even the metadata stored inline with the post body.
This means that posts can easily be written wholly in Vim and directly uploaded to Neosynth without having to worry about any little tweaks in a WYSIWYG editor or having to use a crappy web UI to fill out post metadata.
Prior to dumping Ghost altogether, my site was running on Ghost version 2.29. That's right, I was running it without any updates from August 2019 up until about April 2021, with all the vulnerabilities and bugs that may entail.
Mind you, I kept my server OS itself up to date so that the host platform itself would not be vulnerable to new threats, but I regularly hunted down old libraries in order to statically link them any time a new library update broke my walking zombie of a Ghost instance.
It was an absolute nightmare.
Now you might be wondering to yourself, what's the big deal? Why not just update Ghost? WELL. About that. Ghost, being the complex platform that it is, has very detailed and intricate site themes which control most of the add-on and custom functionality of a Ghost-based website. Ghost also pushes new updates extremely regularly, both to fix security issues and to add new features. The issue is that these new updates will, more often than not, change functionality that will ultimately break one's custom site theme.
This means that a significant amount of time that could be spent doing something actually productive goes down the toilet in the form of busywork maintenance keeping Ghost up to date, secure, and not breaking from OS updates.
The great thing about Neosynth's new wmcms platform is that its only dependency is the nginx webserver that it runs on top of. That means there is effectively only one package to worry about breaking the site, and that package is both highly maintained and ridiculously stable.
Effectively, this means that the server running Neosynth can just have automatic server updates enabled and it will basically run itself with minimum webmaster input necessary. Neat!
As of this writing, the new Neosynth has no search function. This isn't the biggest issue in the world, since you can easily view the post indices and "Ctrl-F" to find anything in particular, or even just pull up the RSS feed in your favourite RSS app and search the site that way. However, inline searchbars are one of those modern conveniences that are easily missed.
While I'd like to have added a search function to the new site, I would have had to throw something together in jQuery (and then regularly maintain it!), which would potentially open the door to the possibility various XSS abuses. No thanks.
For better or worse, Neosynth has a new design that is here to stay. Hopefully the new nineties cyberpunk aesthetic creates a more cohesive user experience, and ultimately results in Neosynth being a better and more stable platform for the future to come. Only time will tell how this redesign will age.
If you'd like to host a website similar to Neosynth, consider checking out the framework Neosynth is now built on top of, WebmasterCMS.