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Blog Take 2

Last updated: Aug 25, 2022
3 minutes
Original date: Aug 08, 2022

So, after a long hiatus, and several domain renewals, I’m taking another crack at this.

I’ve had half-ideas about blog posts over the years, but general life-goings-on, writing inertia, and a handful of specific hurdles have kept me from making publishable headway.

No apologies for living life outside of tech. It’ll win every time. And of course several people more eloquent than I have spoken about inertia and writing, so I’ll spare the space.

So, let’s spend the remainder of this time going in detail on fixes I’m attempting for the specific hurdles I’ve run into with my workflow.

Tooling Issues - Hexo

So, each time I looked at Hexo, I kept running into language barriers. I touch on this with Beyond Hexo. Even returning after (checks calendar)…5 years, Hexo is still predominantly for Chinese-language users. Makes sense, no reason to change. But, it’s still a headache when questions come up or I want to do stuff outside normal confines.

Tooling - What’s Next?

In picking this back up, I decided to go with another static site generator (SSG). Of course, since I originally started, there has been an absolute explosion of site generators and general blog-centric CMS tools. A short list includes:

With an evening of research, I got the impression that Gatsby and VuePress were a little heavy, Next.js wasn’t as tailored for blog work, MkDocs didn’t have any specific blog theming/support (though there are discussions for a popular theme). That left Zola and 11ty.

I tried 11ty first. Seemed to have the most general consensus support overall. I found several themes that meshed pretty well with the overall aesthetic I was going for. I might eventually piece something together myself, but I’m also not passionate enough about front end design to have that as my starting point.

For comparison, I gave Zola a spin, as I liked some of the core tenets it had as far as speed, minimal dependencies, etc. However, each theme that I tried had some really weird blips as the page was loaded. I observed this both locally and remotely. I’m not sure if this is a byproduct of being on Netlify (most themes were), the nature of the engine, or what. But I decided not to dig in further.

I decided to move forward with 11ty, and settled on this templateto adapt to my needs.

Publishing Hurdles

So, up to this point, my publish workflow was multi-step:

  1. Write markdown file
  2. Save/commit changes
  3. Gather any linked assets
  4. Run my Hexo command line tool to generate the HTML markup
  5. Open up SSH portal to my domain host
  6. Upload the new markup files + assets
  7. View new post on site

This isn’t the worst workflow, but far from effortless. Based on time I spend writing documentation for work, the ideal workflow would eliminate steps 3-6. This was possible with GitHub + Jekyl back when I started this site. However, I don’t think it supported custom domains at the time. Or it might have been a cost cutting effort. Can’t recall. Either way, there’s tons of options there now.

Publishing - What’s Next?

Similar to static site generators, there has been an explosion of site publishers since I started:

Thankfully, my initial decision is easy. The template I branched from uses Netlify already. Netlify supports custom domains, free SSL, etc. Seems like a no brainer to start with. If you’re reading this post, Netlify has done great. Hopefully it doesn’t go the way of Heroku and do away with the free tier , but I can always look at shifting the build actions to something else in that scenario.