HappyGrunt

The First of the Static Site


01 May 2017

After 10 years in the making this personal site/blog project has finally made it out officially. Life has a bunch of distractions and it’s easy for me to get sidetracked for my personal projects. Besides finding the time to capitalize to work on this, it’s a hard to make decisions on how to build it. Such decisions as what should the design look like, typography, back-ground images, responsiveness or, of course, CMS. Decision fatigue has kept me from launch, but also made me question my motivation and reason for having this space on the web.

Choices for a CMS

There was a time when Wordpress was the “it” CMS for bloggers and content creators. It involved “LAMP” stack, which means you needed a Linux server with PHP, Apache, and MySQL to be managed. Then you’re left customizing clunky Wordpress ecosystem and server maintenance or costs simply to make your website look ‘custom’.

There were several other notable CMS that people were interested in, Textpattern, Drupal, ExpressionEngine - all LAMP type of solutions. Do this day I’ve removed PHP from my resume and refuse to do it and much less deal with a customized Wordpress installation. Every so often recruiters will still ask if I’d be interested in a PHP position - a lack of thoughtfulness when reading the resume or professional profiles.

BYO–CMS

At the time I was in college Ruby on Rails was getting popular, and it was awesome development experience and best software development practices. Rails weren’t the only MVC framework, PHP had CodeIgnitor and Zend frameworks, to name a couple, but all of the solutions required server maintenance.

Hosted CMS costs money, even if you’re using it for free. And free stuff becomes adware - BOO! At some point, if you didn’t pay for something slick like Squarespace, your content doesn’t become yours anymore. It get’s lost among the sea of all other content produced by strangers. This gets me to my point of blogging and writing in this medium. My content is my own, so hence I want the content to be focused and a place for me to reflect on my own. It serves as a log of my collection of thoughts. If visitors to this site visit the page, chances are they’re interested in what I have to say or see some pictures that I’ve shot.

Era of the static site generator

It almost seems the new thing is Static site generation. This kind of reminds me of when Dreamweaver - ya, remember them? - generated websites via some templating solution.

This is happening now more and more for sites that don’t really need a database and the concept of a server-less solutions come into play. This blog is a bunch of static HTML pages generated on my local computer. And there are a ton of solutions for this, but for me, this is as simple as it gets, and simplicity is key when it comes getting myself to write more and self-publish. Static site generation solves my immediate problem and I’m not having to sign up for another account. Granted there is a bit of a setup overhead, with a GitHub repo, and choosing a static site generator, in this case, Hexo. This allows me to have a simple markdown file as my medium to write and format words on to the screen.

Solving problems by not solving them

There’s not a whole lot of features to this method, but it solves my problem. It encourages me to not solving problems that don’t yet exist for me. Part of what takes me so long working on anything is the that there are sooo many good solutions to problems that don’t yet have the priority. There’s usually some new way of doing something that I want to tryout. I’ve decided to keep this static site simple and to the point with the solutioning. If it works out of the box, then it works. If it doesn’t fulfill a need I’ll add it as a feature. This is my inner geek.

Github pages and static site generation has been a bit of a tech geek trend. It’s common for open source projects, documentation, and personal websites to get created through static site generator. I’ve taken a lot of inspiration from other techies and friends. Their sites are clean simple, and focused. They’re used as at tool for learning, sharing insights, reflections and mental notes.

Always be learning, always be thoughtful

This gets me into the motivation for having a person site, and blog. It’s more than a self promotion thing but for personal grown, learning, and playground for tech solutions. It’s a log to keep track my thoughts, feelings and life’s milestones.

If my motivations and purposes are clear, I shouldn’t allow myself to get bogged down with decisions, or distracted by every problem I’d like to solve, but rather get to the “MVP”, or the place of value. As with any web app, mobile or desktop, there is inherent value to being live in the wild. It’s immediate feed back wether you are providing value with your product, when it lives in production.

What this means for me is that as I encounter a problem, I’ll solve it bit by bit, and as I see fit when life permits. This space on the web is not part of any other content network or social media. People visiting the site hopefully are being deliberate to keep up with me. Really though, if no one reads this that’s okay; at the very least I’ll be reflecting and thinking about my field of work, the things and people I care about, and discovering more about myself.