Although the main uses of Node.js that we keep hearing about are either real-time messaging systems like Voxer or machine-to-machine communications systems like DTrace, Node.js can also be used for traditional scripting projects like creating content management systems or blog engines. It’s still early, and the tools here are still pretty much geek-only apps for those comfortable with using the command line. But those wanting to learn more about Node.js, or just really want a simple asynchronous CMS, can check these projects out.
Wheat, a blogging engine created by Tim Caswell, is one of the oldest Node.js blogging engines available. It takes a folder full of markdown formatted text files from git and renders them as HTML. In my interview with him on theCube, Caswell explained that he didn’t originally plan for anyone else to use Wheat, but he put it in GitHub and soon started seeing sites running on Wheat and using his default templates.
Wheat is part of a trend of coder-oriented lightweight blogging tools that harken back to the early days of blogging, when tools like Radio Userland and Bloxsom were (relatively) popular. It’s pretty geeky, but someone looking for an alternative to Jekyll or Octopress written in Node.js should check it out.
Scotch is similar to Wheat in that it renders markdown pages. Unlike Wheat, however, it has a caching system built with the NoSQL datastore Redis.
“Jekyll is very similar to Scotch in that Jekyll generates a static site based on markdown files,” says Scotch creator Daniel Erickson. “It’s different in that there is no build step needed. When a Scotch server starts up, it scans the posts directory for files and slurps the data into a Redis cache. Scotch also watches that directory for changes, so you don’t have to redeploy the whole site to get it to see new blog posts.”
Blacksmith is another static site generator written in Node.js. Inspired by Jekyll, it aims to be a full content management system for those wanting a “baked” site. It was created by Node.js platform-as-a-service provider Nodejitsu and powers the company’s site.
For those wanting more, check out Calipso, a CMS built with Node.js, the Express framework and MongoDB. Calipso aims to one day compete with WordPress and Drupal, and is adding more advanced features such as content types.