The Future of Ghost and How to Help

Ghost LogoGhost is about 9 months old now and is on a very positive trajectory.

People have been quick to adopt Ghost since it's public release in October last year. Hosting companies have also taken steps to make it easier to use Ghost on shared hosting.

Another indicator of popularity is the sizeable number of themes available for Ghost and their sales so far on marketplaces like ThemeForest.

All of these factors clearly validate the point that Ghost has successfully created a niche for itself in the crowded CMS market and is here to stay.

What is the state of Ghost now?

The last update we had from Ghost was 0.4.2 released on 26th March 2014. Currently Ghost does not offer a lot of features but so far the things they have got right are:

  • Fast, simple and uncluttered interface - Using Ghost is very simple and fast. Irrespective of the device you use, elements within the backend are cleanly organized and presented.
  • A great editor - Ghost’s editor is great and getting a real-time preview of your content is really useful.
  • Simple to create themes – From day one, Ghost ensured the proper separation of presentation and logic. This will avoid the code bloat issues that have plagued WordPress themes. Handlebars template tags are simple to create and anyone with basic knowledge of HTML and CSS can create a Ghost theme.

Expected features in coming months

Ghost backend was recently re-written completely in Ember which had taken much of the development time. However some other features that have been developerd and will be made. available soon are:

  • Multi-User – Most of the issues related to multi-suser have been resolved and this may soon be available in beta.
  • Plugins API - Once released, this would allow developers to extend Ghost using “Ghost Apps” aka Plugins for Ghost.

What's missing from Ghost?

Considering it’s been just over a year from idea to execution, the team behind Ghost has done a fabulous job so far.

However, there are still few issues / missing features which once sorted out could have major impact on Ghost’s growth. Some of these are:

    •    Internationalization
    •    Dashboard - I was sold on the concept of the dashboard in Ghost that was shown on the original Kickstarter page. While there is no exact ETA, we still are months away from actually seeing even a basic Dashboard similar to the proposed concept.
    •    Simpler Upgrades – Unless you are using Ghost Pro or other similar hosted Ghost blogs, upgrading is not that simple. It involves running SSH commands which is not something a non-technical user would want to do.
    •    Live Preview - Live preview does not use formatting from your theme. Hence to see how your content will look with a certain theme, you still have to access the front end of your website.
    •    Need to use HTML for some tasks – There are no options or shortcuts within Ghost editor to add links that open in new tabs or choose image alignments which results in using having to resort to HTML.
    •    Custom Excepts – A platform for blogging needs to provide user with the ability to set custom excerpts. While this may not stop users from using Ghost, it still is an important factor.

Getting involved in Ghost

This is just the beginning for Ghost hence it’s much easier now to understand it and get involved than any time in future. Being an early adopter also has its own rewards.

The Ghost team communicates with developers routinely through multiple channels and are very encouraging. They have set a proper process which makes getting involved easier.

  • Testing – There can never be enough testers. Simply installing beta and stable versions and reporting error can very helpful.
  • Forum support – Another great way to help others is through the official Ghost forum.
  • Theme Development – Creating a Ghost theme is very easy. You could learn by simply creating a few themes and also sharing them with other users.
  • Contributing to core – Getting involved in the development of Ghost would help speed up feature releases.

About the author

Harish is a designer & WordPress developer from Mumbai. He runs a web design agency "Dreams Media" and writes about random stuff on his personal website HarishChouhan.com.