Not having a blog and wanting to write something that can be displayed in a safe
place creates a bit of a dilemma. This is the situation I found myself in a few
I had several goals for my blog:
- Low cost, er, actually free.
- Aethestic design–it had to look nice.
- Performance–it had to feel nice.
- Responsive–it had be usable on a smart phone.
- Low maintenance–I don’t want to worry about security upgrades and fixing
Now that it is built, I find myself at a loss for words. My initial impulse has
faded and I have this empty site that needs filling. (Actually I still have the
urge to write, but I’m low on creativity.)
So, I thought I’d write about what I did to get this site up and running.
Dynamic versus Static
Most modern websites are dynamic. This means that powerful servers and software
generate what you see when you ask to see it. Blogs that run on the most popular
blogging software, Wordpress, work this way–Wordpress
works to assemble the page someone wants to see each time they ask for it.
Wordpress is nice, but it wouldn’t work for me because it doesn’t achieve
several of my goals.
So I took a look at static design. A static site is pregenerated. Every page has
already been rendered. This is the way the web worked when it first began.
Static web sites can be served from free servers and can be served very quickly.
But generating everything by hand is tedious and time consuming and not fun at
all. Imagine having to create a new page from scratch every time the urge hit to
write. If I had to do that I’d never be able to preserve any creativity for the
actual exercise–and if you were around in the early days of the web, you might
remember that design consistency was the exception rather than the rule.
Jekyll to the Rescue
Jekyll generates simple blog-aware static sites. I
spent my time up front getting the design to where I wanted it and configuring
Jekyll. This is a bit like wiring or plumbing–get all the pieces in the right
sequence and connect them so that when Jekyll is fed raw text it handles all the
tedium and spits out a static site.
Free hosting is handled by storing everything on GitHub
and setting up hosting on Netlify. Netlify reads
from GitHub and serves the pages that make up the site.
Comments can’t be handled directly by a static site and so I’ve enlisted
Disqus for that job. Likewise, subscriptions are handled
Probably the best part for me is that I get to edit my work in my favorite text
editor, Visual Studio Code.
I can write with no distractions and I’m looking forward to having this blog
ready for my next creative impulse.