I’ve owned this eponymous domain for far longer than I hosted a site on it. Some time during college I registered the domain knowing I would eventually use it as a personal site. Though to be honest, I wasn’t ever particularly concerned about losing out on it as my name is not particularly common.
It took some time before I sat down to make a site though. I wanted to learn more about web development, but somehow it becomes less fun when you’re making a site about yourself. Finally, I had no workflow to make updating my site easy or painless.
Recently I took a few steps to create a process that I could use to regularly update my site with as little effort as possible. This will be nothing new to anyone with more than a few drops of development experience, but it’s all a learning experience for me.
Publishing With Jekyll
I knew that essentially my site would resemble a blog, whether the content be portfolio items or more general postings. That meant I need some sort of CMS. A traditional option like WordPress seemed like overkill for my needs, not to mention I didn’t exactly consider managing a WordPress installation a reduction in my tasks.
It wasn’t long after considering that that I learned about Jekyll a static site generator. The
gist of it is that I can write content in individual Markdown files with a
simple folder structure, and with a quick
jekyll build my site is ready to
go. All the meta data for a post is specified at the start of each file,
which can then be used in templates.
My site is really not much more than some Markdown files and folders; pretty easy to delete the wrong thing or lose a lot of content. I clearly needed some sort of version control. I chose Git, something any developer is familiar with. But once again, my site is nothing more than text files, so it was super easy to use Git to back up my site. I can even host it on GitHub so I can work on it from any of my computers.
Publishing the Site
And we reach the last step: getting my site up onto the web! This was pretty easy. I decided to use Gulp to create a task to upload my site to my host. I found a great Gulp task here that does it perfectly. One last step might be to incorporate Jekyll’s build process into that.
Everything I’ve written about is pretty standard stuff, nothing novel or special. But it is only a year ago that I probably would not have considered most of these solutions. I’ve always been interested in web development (and software engineering more generally) so finding my way to this solution was an enjoyable learning experience. One that gets me an easy-to-update site in the process!