Sharing thoughts on being a maker and sometime breaker of tech along with other interests such as electronics, photography, films and running.

Opinions are my own...unless pilfered from someone smarter.

  • Using Jekyll to generate a static site

    When dealing with integration points feels too much like your day job and the diaspora of plugins and functionality of a full-blown CMS is simply too much for your needs, keep things simple...use a static website generator like jekyll and serve your assets from a web server's hard disk the way your grandparents did.

    What is Jekyll

    Jekyll is a static site generator that is growing in popularity since being adopted by Github to power Github Pages.

    It’s a flexible, easy-to-pick-up tool that scans source content such as html, markdown, less, sass and coffee-script files and generates all the assets of your website, following your defined templates.

    Why use a static generator…?

    Because dealing with integration points is my day job…!

    Integration points have got to be the most common place where things go askew in production. Application code gets tested and verified, unit tests and system tests keep a code-base safer safe to change…but, it’s integration points between the web sites up front, the database and web services out back where things get a bit risky after this point…and, there’s very little that can be done to prevent it…only respond to it.

    What about hosting with Wordpress…?

    Wordpress does what it does really well and contains a massive range of available plug-ins and themes. Wordpress is super-easy to customise, there’s a huge, active community of developers and hackers, and a plethora of forum posts and blog posts to assist. There is tonnes of potential functionality.

    But, what if you don’t need tonnes of functionality?

    Jekyll, your favourite text editor and the ability to ftp may be everything you need. Static websites will continue to just work. No database patches, no downtime beyond your web server, and no patching or updating plug-ins.

    Other website generation tools

    There are a number of other popular website generators available.

    I did some exploration of using assemble, a nodejs tool that generates sites from content files and templates, but I found the syntax a little clumsy and didn’t have much success.

    With Github getting behind Jekyll as the tool to power their Pages service, it’s likely we will see an explosion of robust modules and discussion in the online community.

  • A Home Amongst the Webs

    Pedrera is a home on the web for thoughts and warblings about things I enjoy to think and warble about. This mostly entails technology, software and toying around with tech, design, music and photography.

    La Pedrera…

    La Pedrera is one of Antoni Gaudi’s final works of architecture in Barcelona. It’s a striking building that blends lots of organic shapes and novel concepts into an apartment building. Finished in 1910 it boasts some innovations that we take as standard these days such as underground parking.

    The sculptured chimney-tops (or ‘witch scarers’ espanta bruixes) impressed me as an image and a few years later was used as the emblem of my buddies and I film-making exploits.

    The building is a great example of innovation, and of engineering technology and art coming together, hence it’s continuing appeal in my own tinkerings.

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