Why Zelda has me so excited.

John has been laughing at me this past week because I'm quite literally jumping-up-and-down excited about Zelda. On Friday we merged Zelda into master and I'm bouncing off the walls. The volume of work involved has caused John to lose a little of his zeal for the project, so I'm gonna shout from the roof tops about it on his behalf.


'Zelda' is the (awesome) code name for the latest iteration on the design of the Ghost admin. Here are a few screenshots of how it looks:

Content management screen
Content management screen with new vertical menu bar
Login screen
Login screen with lighter colour scheme

The Ghost admin interface has already had a couple of design iterations. When we started out in 2013, we were building a piece of software based on some sketches in a blog post that people seemed to like. We weren't really thinking about the future, as John said about the interface:

It was also only designed with a very narrow use-case of "it should do X" - rather than "it should do X now, Y in 6 months and Z in a year".

The rigid design of the interface frequently left us stuck unable to add a new feature because there just wasn't a space for it. The least flexible part was the post settings menu, a small popover component that wasn't able to expand to fit new options. This was the no.1 reason why it took us so long to add post cover images.

Old post settings menu
No room for an image uploader!

Almost a year ago now, during the Ember rewrite, we embarked on adding a new version of the post settings menu, again to use John's words, the new PSM is "extensible, fast, and it is build with patterns instead of a fixed design". The new flexible layout of the PSM allowed us to quickly add new features including post images and meta data.

New post settings menu
Space for all the things!

Now that we're 2 years into this journey, we're very much thinking about where we want Ghost to go, and we've got big ideas.

Zelda represents this turning point. We're no longer working through the backlog of basic features or trying to fulfil the commitments we made during the KickStarter campaign. We're looking to the future, and to the next set of features that will turn Ghost from an awesome little basic blogging tool, into a fully-fledged publishing platform.

The Ghost team is constantly balancing between the 'move fast and break things' approach and consistently delivering stable software that users can rely upon. This is exacerbated by the fact we're fighting technical challenges both in the Ghost software itself, and on our Ghost(Pro) hosting platform, whilst also trying to ensure the features we release are carefully considered and worthy of the Ghost brand.

When the user interface gets in our way, it's just one more thing we have to contend with that keeps us moving slower than we would like. The interface is a particular challenge because it's not something the OSS community can easily help with. As much as we wish there was a GitHub-style solution for design, there really isn't, and that puts a great deal of pressure on John to problem solve every minor UI and UX issue.

Zelda gives us the same flexibility and extensibility we have in the post settings menu, but for the entire interface.

No more getting stuck looking for a space for a feature or compromising on features because the interface needs a rework. With Zelda not only is there space for more application frame elements (like a search bar) and a more flexible space for navigation items, but there's also more space for writing posts and it automatically works better on mobile. Zelda sets the Ghost interface free.

And so I'm bouncing off the walls with excitement. I don't know which issue to write first, I don't know which feature to start on next, so many possibilities, so much freedom. So I wrote a blog post instead!

Well it was about time.