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Forestry.io (forestry.io)
251 points by achairapart on July 2, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 87 comments

If I were you, I would rethink your "beta invite" flow. Adding an email address and clicking on the "Request Invite" button doesn't send you an invite, it adds you to their MailChimp newsletter list and sends an email asking you to confirm your address (for opt-in). There is no invite code or protected page, anyone can just go to https://forestry.io/beta to sign up. Don't trick me into opting in to your newsletter when what you promised was a beta trial. Give me access and let me test drive it; if I like the service I'll sign up for your newsletter, I'll follow you on Twitter and I'll pay money for a subscription. If you pull a bait and switch on me I'll move on.

Co-creator here. We certainly didn't intend for this feeling and have removed the Mailchimp form. There is now just a direct link to the signup page.

The people that signed up to the beta invite list will not be subscribed to our newsletters unless they sign up to Forestry and choose to opt into our newsletter. Mailchimp was simply an easy way for us to manage a list of people interested in the service. Having the list and not linking to forestry.io/beta was just our way of saving development effort. We were merely creating an artificial control over who could sign up.

Rest assured that any users that have not signed up to Forestry and opted into newsletters will be sent nothing but an invite to the beta.

Could you please add a newsletter sign-up link or form?

I'd just add a disclaimer about the newsletter to what he's already doing. I don't like email marketing either, but it works ridiculously well. No marketer would do what you're suggesting.

> I don't like email marketing either, but it works ridiculously well. No marketer would do what you're suggesting.

Note that the framework is not necessarily for the average person, who would respond in a certain way to your average email marketer. It is ostensibly "Built for devs who hate bloat."

Tricking someone into signing them up for a newsletter they didn't sign up for by way of a beta invite form is bloat of the malicious sort. I would say that while marketing to your target group, it is something you should avoid.

I agree you should be aboveboard

Not a very descriptive headline. I see many headlines like this on Hacker News with just a name, and I often skip over them. Give people some information to draw them in, and to assure them it will not be a waste of time. All I can assume at this point is that your site is about forestry.

Edit: I have looked at the site, and indeed it has nothing to do with forestry. You would do well to include in the headline the straightforward description that is already in use on the page:

"Forestry: A simple CMS for Jekyll and Hugo sites"

+1, I expected some software toolset for managing natural parks or the wood industry, at most.

I agree. I'm always confused how non-descriptive stories make it to the frontpage of HN though...

Getting friends to upvote their submissions, I'd guess.

I wish. This took us by surprise. We didn't know it was submitted until it was already on the front page.

Sorry, my fault, and I agree with you. I quickly submitted this just before bed as a reminder and found it on the front-page today. Also, I'm not linked with the creators in any way, just genuinely interested about the service itself.

I'm the opposite. When it's just a name I become intrigued, always thinking "is this the next big thing?" and thrilled to find out what it is.

Was expecting some IoT SAAS for actual forest/garden management. Was disappointed.

Just skip anything that's on an .io TLD. You'll be fine.

It's probably a Heartbleed style GitHub Pages site for the latest bloat-free Rust rewrite of leftpad, anyway

@jpatters: if you care about this, move it to a .com. I winced.

Co-creator here. I was building a website for someone last summer and I REALLY didn't want to use WordPress, so my friend and I built forestry.io.

Some highlights:

• Supports all Jekyll plugins

• Integrates with GitHub & Bitbucket (commits back to your repo)

• Zero configuration for you project

• Hosting not provided (deploy to S3, Github Pages, FTP)

• Use Markdown or WYSIWYG

I'd love to know what you think if the concept. Get in touch at scott@forestry.io if you have any specific needs.


I agree that the project not being open-source is a great no-go.

You guys should consider replicating the Wordpress model: open-source tools and paid plans for hosting & support.

Don't think that S3 or github pages are too simple for a user to being autonomous in deployment. IMHO typical use case for your product is a tech guyssetting things up for some non tech people to administrate and write content afterwards.

This means the keys are : - 0 tech steps in administration (no git push, no jekyll generate etc.) - plugins - plugins - plugins - themes - plugins

But clearly if this can become an alternative to WP, this is great because devs hate WP and it scales really bad, while static websites is the complete opposite.

I totally agree, although i would pay money for this code. Not being able to modify it makes it unusable in a custom jekyll setup.

> I'd love to know what you think if the concept

Having an interface to edit the blog content is great for us devs who would like to involve non-technical people in the copywriting.

However, I'm wondering about the fit of your solution to your target audience: jekyll users are developers, and use an open source solution they can control and customize.

Why would they want to add a closed-source hosted piece on top of it? Personally it's a no-go for me.

Hey -- this seems really cool, especially for one Jekyll site I manage but want a nontechnical person to be able to update. I found a bug(?) though -- I linked it to a site deployed on S3 and published a test post, and it pushed all the newly built files to s3, but didn't set them to the public-read ACL, so I got AccessDenied errors on refresh until I logged into s3 and manually set them public myself.

Edit: Another piece of feedback -- it's really awesome that it picks up on my custom frontmatter when editing posts, but when I create a new post, none of the custom frontmatter fields are there. Can I enter the frontmatter in the WYSIWYG or is there some other way to add it?

Hey, Co-creator here. In regards to the first issue, we assume that you have applied Amazon's recommended bucket policy as per https://docs.aws.amazon.com/AmazonS3/latest/dev/WebsiteAcces.... We do this in case the website being deployed isn't meant to be publicly available.

Re custom frontmatter, with Jekyll we respect the defaults that are set in your config (https://jekyllrb.com/docs/configuration/#front-matter-defaul...). If a post matches a type or path that is specified in a default, we make those fields available in the post. We have come to realize that this feature of Jekyll isn't used as often as it should be (it's really useful) and are working on giving users the ability to add fields to their posts.

Ah got it, that all makes sense. Thanks for the response! :)

Cool site. May I ask is your WYSIWYG custom made?

We're using Redactor.

Looks good!

Can I buy the software and run it locally? I'm extremely interested for a client, but there is no way they will surrender ownership of their content to a third party - and I sadly won't suggest they do.

I assume they could pay 150-300 bucks for a single-site license and something like 5-6 pages. Their website is very small. Honestly, cook up a license with per n-page fees and I'm sure you'll sell a bunch.

You should probably look into https://www.getlektor.com/ which does exactly this but you can host it yourself.

Is is only a hosted solution for now. However, if you keep your content in a repo on GitHub or Bitbucket, you can connect that to Forestry and Forestry will commit any changes back to your repo. There is no surrender of content required. Since Jekyll is open source and you retain your content in the form of a Jekyll project, there is really nothing we could do "lock you in" per say.

This is great! I have a bit of feedback though:

- Does it really need access to my private repos too? I don't get to only let it see public repos? There's a reason some of my repos are private, and I don't really feel comfortable letting a third-party accessing them.

- It's a bit weird that my posts are listed in reverse chronological order.

- Having a way do add a description and required formatting (string, date, int...) to the different YAML Frontmatter fields would be great. Prose.io supports this, for instance, and I think that this is hugely important for non-technical users.

- Why don't I get to see and/or edit the date of my posts?

GitHub's api permissions aren't very granular. We can choose between all public repos, or all public and private repos. A lot of our users have their site in a private repo as it is for an internal wiki or simply a site they are still developing. Giving the user the ability to choose between all public and all public and private complicates the flow, especially if you chose all public when you started and then later want to access a private repo. This is something that we will take into consideration as the the product grows though.

Your posts should be listed with the most recent first. This seems to be pretty standard across content management systems. However, we will have sorting out into production soon.

I'm not 100% certain what you mean with regards to frontmatter. Right now, when you create a new page/post the fields that show up are determined by the frontmatter defaults (in Jekyll) or the archetype (in Hugo). The type of data that a field accepts is derived from the content in existing fields. We are working on giving the user the ability to change the content type of a given field and to add additional frontmatter fields.

The fields are derived from the frontmatter in a content file. If the content file has a date field in frontmatter, you will see a date field. I realize that Jekyll incorporates the date into the name of the content file so you may not have a reason to add a date field to frontmatter. I'll add that to my todo list.

I've thought about building this a million times. For the people that don't understand it, it's web UI managed Jekyll that takes those web changes and puts them into git/github (presumably GitHub) so that you get the auto-deploy feature of Jekyll based GitHub pages. Kudos and good luck.


"Forestry". Really? I can understand many other hot startups using names of random objects, but using the name of an entire completely different profession?

Hahaha. Co-creator here. I know, it's silly. Here's how we came up with it:

My partner and I used to drive 2 hours to meet our team every Monday at our old startup. We conceived of the idea on one of these drives and the conversation went like this:

Jordan - "So what are we going to call this thing?" Scott - "I don't know, some cool .io name?" We passed an RV that had a "Caravan" logo on it Scott - "Like caravan.io" Jordan - "That's stupid" We passed another RV that had a "Forestry" logo on it Scott - "Or forestry.io" Jordan - "That's stupid too"

I did a search that night, caravan.io was taken but forestry.io was available :)

Jordan was right.

Nah. It's cool. Their cms spawns a forest of small websites. That's some fine Forestry imo.

Makes as much sense as a book-and-music seller named after a river in Brazil. We do just fine with weird things like this if they're ingrained enough.

As someone whose parents are both foresters, this actually confused me pretty hard. I'm disappointed this wasn't a forestry-oriented startup :P

For those seeking a forestry related startup, checkout http://TREELY.co

I was excited at the prospect of an API service offering up to date forestry data.

Checkout my friends' startup http://TREELY.co

Ditto. That's the only reason i clicked on the link.

Yeah I'll admit it took me way too long to try and figure out what this website had to do with foresting before I realized it was absolutely zero. I scrolled, read and clicked around way to make to try and make sure I wasn't missing something.

After you read the first three words of the main headline "a simple CMS", the chances that the site has anything to do with foresting are marginally small and thus not worth exploring.

Yeah I just initially assumed it was some sort of CMS with the niche of supporting foresting operations or something. Not just a CMS.

Something something about growing and monetising (b)logs?

Nah, I got nothing.

You mean like Apple taking the name of a primeur business ?

Is this like how http://prose.io/ is with github? I've been using that and it works ok, though sometimes things don't seem to take the first time.

Basically, but without the customization.

Ooh, looks nice. I assume it's going to be a service though? Anyone know of similar style products out there that are self-hosted or open source? I have several scenarios where it would be great to tie together a static repo, an on-demand CMS like this, and the pushed final product, just like this looks like it will do.

Requested access though, looking forward to seeing more.

I had the same thought. I found this a moment ago.


Edit/Addendum: I think this is an interesting service. For what it's worth, I'd rather pay someone to host this type of content with a SLA of some sort.

Check out SiteLeaf. It is a paid service, but a good price.

cloudcannon.com is the biggest similar service but quite expensive

This reminds me: About a year ago I wrote down [1] some ideas I had about a static site generator that defines its structures in JSON schema (or something alike). It then uses this type information to validate the correct usage in all templates and inputs, as well as to generate a UI for editing. I'm pretty sure this idea is still a few steps ahead of any product/OSS I've seen in this space. Sadly, I've only ever implemented a simple prototype.

So, if anyone wants to give that a go, I'd be happy to see this implemented!

[1]: https://pascalhertleif.de/artikel/silicon-zucchini/

That sounds sort of like Contentful (not affiliated in anyway, but came up when I was looking for a "content storage as a service" type thing.

Are there any advantages to this over cloudcannon? They seem very similar.

Would love to hear a reply to this since this is your biggest likely competitor.

Looks a lot like SiteLeaf.com to me.

This was my initial thought as well. We used siteleaf for around 6 months until we outgrew it.

What were the factors that caused you to outgrow it? I'm curious

At 300+ pages the compile time became an issue. We started to build very custom layouts that didn't necessarily lend themselves to a typical CMS. On top of that we trasitioned our core marketing content to hubspot, while our highly directed pages remained static.

You should try Hugo. It's lightning fast.

Any plans on supporting Gitlab and Gitlab Pages? Would also be stoked if it was open source, I'd probably still pay for the service but just knowing that it is OSS and that I could tweak it myself would be great.

We will certainly be adding support for Gitlab. It is not open source right now. But it is something we are considering in the future.


I'm using mobile and the adding website flow is smooth and concise. I connected my blog hosted on GitHub. The only caveat is that this requires permission to access everything on your GitHub account, public and private repositories, and permission to do anything with them.

However, after adding the website repository, I'm not able to see any posts, is this only for pages? There are some UI issues with page editor on mobile that can be sorted out in beta. Nice product!

Update: I can access posts after changing the URL, but a direct link is missing in the UI.

Unfortunately GitHub doesn't give great control over permissions. The only thing we can choose from is access to all public repos, or access to all public and private repos. We can't specify that we want only the user repos and not the organization or vice versa.

I will certainly have a look at the issue you are having. Could you contact us via our support tool on the site? Or email us at support at forestry.io.

I was actually looking for a CMS I could use for my dad's forestry company. I could set up the server and design, and he could log in to change the content.

Forestry on Forestry?

Well I didn't want to post this on HN but I can't find any contact info in your site nor your HN profile so ....

The mobile landing page plays the video on touchstart which makes it hard to scroll through the page since any touch of the thumbnails, even just for the purpose of scrollong, starts the videos :(

Thanks. We will fix that.

I went there to read some forestry information and I couldn't see the wood for all the trees!

You might want to do a comparison vs wordpress. I would love to use another cms system, but wp is not only wp, it is an ecosystem of products for building websites, how does forestry compare to that? Can forestry reduce my development cost for custom solutions?

You are right, Wordpress is not just Wordpress. And the obvious thing that we are missing is the plugin ecosystem that Wordpress has.

That being said, if you can do without plugins, I would highly recommend using a static site generator as it can reduce your development cost as well as your management cost. There is no backend to build and no server to manage. Forestry is a tool to allow you to take advantage of the benefits of a static site generator from a development and management perspective, and still allow your clients/users to be able to manage their content.

I looked up -not so- real quick for your code on Github, without luck. Are you NOT open source?

This looks great! I'd probably only use it for a real project, if it came with more fine-grained permissions, though. I wouldn't want writers or editors to control pages and chunks, for instance.

Still the best Jekyll CMS I've seen.

We are working on permissions. Ideally, what would you like to see?


Probably an Admin/Editor/Writer hierarchy where admins can manage both Posts, Pages, and Chunks, and Editors can edit all writers' posts, whereas Writers can only create posts and edit their own. Perhaps Writers could also be restricted to only submitting a post for publication, which the editor could then pull the trigger on.

Chunks are really interesting, but I feel that permissions should be more granular. They're great to collate information about the writers (bio, Twitter, e-mail), but they should probably only be able to edit their own field.

Thanks for the feedback. I've added your comments to our other thoughts on permissions.

Good job. The UI looks really nice. The ability to upload it to lots of different endpoints allows for so much flexibility.

I've just uploaded a Jekyll site, but it failed, the error message could have been more descriptive.

Thanks for the feedback. We are working on making our error messages better.

Just out of narcissistic curiosity, I would be interested to know where you got the design inspiration from. It looks super similar to one of my services, although you have executed it with more polish!

It's like the heavens have been listening to me! I've been studying static site generators and needing a non-technical editing solution... Looks like this might fit the bill.

Plans for middleman support?

Although our solution is a bit different, we support it! http://datocms.com

We plan to officially launch our ShowHN within a couple of weeks, so sorry if the marketing site and the documentation is not 100% ready.. but the product is already working, you can signup and start playing with it immediately :)

I came here to ask this as well, actually. You'd be surprised at how far Middleman has crept into corporate\government workflows and Foresty could be hugely applicable to those organisations.


Love it! Keep up the great work.

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