Now I’ve ended my Ross and Rachel relationship with micro.blog, and I’m fully in, I wanted to spend some time discussing my set-up. I’ve been asked all sorts of questions over the past couple of weeks and helped people achieve similar goals, but there’s nothing like a good how to guide or walkthrough right.

I should preface this with some words of framing or discouragement. I don’t think micro.blog (mb) is going to be for everyone. There are some barriers to entry, and you need to know a little more about the back end to really tailor things to your liking. With that said, it’s a fantastic service for blogging, and has the best social side I have ever experienced. None of what I walk through is needed, you can just sign up and start with no worries.

Posting

I do all of my posting directly into the micro.blog app, or longer form posts are now done in Ulysses. The new edition of posting from in my opinion the best writing app, was a big prod to finally move everyting to mb.

The most important part for me is posting everything to one place, and I have found it very freeing. There are also a few iOS Shortcuts to posts to micro.blog — the first of which developed by Yorrike will allow you to share text straight to the Shortcut and post with a tap. The linked page also walks you through how to get it set up.

There is also a really nice image posting Shortcut made by Craig McClellan, that will allow you to upload and image and the link to that image is copied to your clipboard. Grab it here.

Categories

The biggest hang up I had with shifting from my WordPress blog was the default showing of all posts on your blogs home page. It’s a strange issue to have, but I just didn’t want my status update type posts getting in the way of my longer form blogging. Thankfully, that is pretty easy using mb Categories.

I first set up a category that all posts I wanted to appear on the home page would be placed into. I called this ‘main’ but of course you can call this whatever you wish. A good suggestion in ‘Essays’ but as you edit some files for your blog, remember to tailor this to your usage.

To go alongside this I have a filter that places all long form posts (those with a Title) into the Main category. I left the other boxes blank, so all posts are captured, but you could set this to look for a specific keyword used in all the posts or an emoji. You can also leave the filter out completely and manually tag your posts.

I have other categories set up to capture posts with a 🎮 for games, and a 📚 for books. These categories get their own page in my main menu.

I have kept to a pretty simple set up when it comes to pages, there is a lot more you can do with custom ones however to get a post category as a page, copy the category URL `https://username.micro.blog/categories/category/ ` and put this as the only text on a new page. Manton has improved the way these are handled recently, so they look even better.

Home Page

The second step of customising my blog was to filter the posts visible on the main page to my main category as detailed above.

You will need a custom theme to do this, I would port a stock one unless you really know what you are doing. The code used is the same, however the files used can sometime be different. You do this by selecting Design in the side menu, then clicking Edit Custom Themes. Click the blue button at the top titled New Theme, and place the GitHub Url into the Clone URL box, you can call theme whatever you like. I am using the Arabica theme, so I called it Arabica 2 for ease.

Once you have added your theme, go back to the Design page, select none for the theme, and then under custom themes select the theme you just imported — and don’t forget to click save.

If you go into the custom theme you will see a big list of files imported, anything missing that the theme doesn’t have but micro.blog needs is listed underneath. For my example I will be editing the index.html file found in layouts. To ONLy feature the posts I have tagged main on my home page I edited

<

pre>{{ $paginator := .Paginate (where .Pages "Type" "post") }}
To

<

pre>{{ $paginator := .Paginate .Site.Taxonomies.categories.main 25 }}

Where main is my category name. Then click Update and wait for the theme to update, this can take a few seconds to a minute or two depending on the server load at the current time.

If you want to limit this further to aid in loading the main page then switch this to

<

pre>{{ $paginator := .Paginate (.Site.Taxonomies.categories.main) x }}

With x being the numbr of posts you desire, I use 12.

The file you need to edit may be different depending on your theme, for example for the Marfa theme, this is in layouts/partials/post-list.html.

Once done you will have a main page that only features the posts you want with nothing else affected.

Feeds

Step three of this was to figure out how to only have these posts appear in the main RSS feed found at url.com/feed.xml. Each individual category has its own RSS feed which can be used by adding feed.xml to the end of the url.

This annoyed me for a while, but I finally worked this out. You will need to edit layouts/index.xml, this is found in the files for the Blank Template underneath all of your files, once you edit this it becomes part of your custom themes files.

Edit the lines that read


    {{ $list := (where .Pages “Type” “post”) }}
    {{ range $list }}


To


    {{ $list := (where .Pages "Type" "post") }}
    {{ range .Site.Taxonomies.categories.main }}


Where main is your category name.

If you’ve imported from WordPress like me, mb will auto-forward the default /feed/ to the new RSS.

Design

I am no web designer, and certainly no code monkey. It took be a considerable amount of time to edit the CSS of my theme to make it into something that I wanted. It helped that I had a theme on WordPress that I had developed over a few years to work from, but it was very much trial and error in making this work with micro.blog and Hugo.

The design that resulted is something I am pretty happy with and won't be doing much to change it going forward unless something breaks. I looked at several themes in use both on micro.blog and external sites, inspected what they had done to achieve the design I wanted and then replicated it in small steps.

Don’t get too hung up on the design of your site, as this is not what people visit for, it is the content. All the time you spend worrying about it and writing code, you could be writing words and sharing your thoughts and ideas. So working on your site over time is nothing to be ashamed of, or just stick to a stock one and get writing!