The programmable blog

The programmable blog
Photo by Aaron Burden / Unsplash

Today I am relaunching the Syldavia Gazette blog on a new blogging platform, switching from Ghost to Quarto. This allows me to use Jupyter notebooks in the blog to help generate blog posts. The Syldavia Gazette (the other blog I manage besides the Front Matter blog) description says

The Syldavia Gazette is a newsletter highlighting interesting science stories from around the web.

With the launch of the Rogue Scholar science blog archive and the growth of content (10,858 posts as of today) the Syldavia Gazette in August switched focus to highlight Rogue Scholar blog posts. This not only makes it much easier for me to find interesting science stories using the Rogue Scholar full-text search, but also facilitates reuse by readers, as all Rogue Scholar posts come with a DOI with rich metadata, are freely available with an open license (CC-BY) as full-text, and are archived with the Internet Archive. With the release of a dedicated API last month, programmatic access to Rogue Scholar content has become much easier, and the relaunched Syldavia Gazette takes advantage of that.

The Syldavia Gazette currently publishes two kinds of blog posts:

Both formats benefit from automation, using Jupyter notebooks and the Rogue Scholar API to either automatically generate a weekly digest, or to generate a draft blog post around a specific topic that can then be finalized manually. The two notebooks not only automatically generate a summary (in a format similar to the listing of posts on the Rogue Scholar website), but also automatically generate a list of references based on the Rogue Scholar metadata. With the switch to Quarto, the notebooks can now be run directly in the blog, simplifying the process – the notebook is the blog post.

Depending on your preferred editor, you can write and run the notebooks in a text editor, in the RStudio IDE, or in Jupyterlab. Notebooks can be written in the Quarto .qmd format or as .ipynb files. Besides the execution of notebooks, Quarto has other convenient features for scholarly documents, including support for references (working with the Zotero Reference Manager), built-in support for DOIs and ORCID IDs, and support for a variety of output formats (including, PDF, ePub, and JATS) via Pandoc. If you want to use a static site generator for your scholarly blog (as about 25% of Rogue Scholar blogs do), take a close look at Quarto.

Static site generators such as Quarto are not the best fit for everyone. For other blogs, a traditional blogging platform backed by a database and with a user-friendly web frontend might be the better option, and Wordpress is the most popular platform amongst Rogue Scholar blogs, used by 38% of all blogs. Rogue Scholar supports all blogging platforms and currently is used by about 10 different platforms.

In the coming weeks and months, I will work on improving the Syldavia Gazette blog. Quarto for example currently only supports RSS feeds and not Atom or JSON feeds, which work better with additional author metadata such as the ORCID ID and/or multiple authors. And just yesterday Chris von Csefalvay published a blog post on how to automate the integration of Rogue Scholar DOIs into a Quarto blog.

This change of the blogging platform from Ghost to Quarto involved a lot of copy-pasting, which was okay as the Syldavia Gazette currently has fewer than 20 posts. But for bigger migrations, it would be great to have a canonical data exchange format to make the process easier, a goal for the Rogue Scholar platform for 2024.


Fenner, M. (2023). The Rogue Scholar weekly newsletter launches on Wednesday.

Fenner, M. (2023). Full-text search added to the Rogue Scholar science blog archive.

Fenner, M. (2023). Starting November, all Rogue Scholar blog posts will be archived by the Internet Archive.

Fenner, M. (2023). Rogue Scholar has an API.

Fenner, M. (2023). Generating Overlay blog posts.

Pampel, H. (2023). The Open Access Week in the Scholarly Blogosphere.

Von Csefalvay, C. (2023). Auto-DOI for Quarto posts via Rogue Scholar.

Copyright © 2023 Martin Fenner. Distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.