drink me

Experimenting With Jekyll

When I decided to renew my skill set and improve them, I wanted to make sure I rebuilt from a clean slate. I wanted to make a new site that wasn’t built in a CMS.

As familiar as I am with Wordpress and other CMS systems, I would learn a lot more. I wanted to challenge myself as a designer learning development.

I wanted to as learn much more and please my appetite for personal growth. I wanted to try my hand at putting together a static site that used a static site generator.

Utilising a static site generator, I wouldn’t need to deal with a database. No need to optimise the CMS to perform the best it could. The static site would still be lightweight and efficient for the audience.

A static site generator would also allow me to modulate my site. I wouldn’t have to copy and paste bits of HTML into each page of my site. This became clear when it comes to blogging. A static site isn’t very blog friendly and it is a cesspool of human error waiting to happen. Making small changes to a static site could take much more time trying to change each page.

I knew what I would be doing with a static site generator so I started by creating a basic static site. Then built out the homepage, portfolio and a couple of blog posts from old builds of my site.

Once I had the site together, I got to work on learning what I would need to do to install a site generator and which one to choose.

There are a lot of static site generators (take a look at StaticGen.com and you’ll see just how many) and through a bit of research I had taken that list to make a choice in either Middleman and Jekyll (I bet you can’t guess which one I chose…). From what I’ve read, I kind of wanted to go with Middleman but it looked a lot more daunting. Unlike Jekyll, it needed a greater amount of command line knowledge than I had.

Don’t get me wrong, I want to learn the command line. I am in fact learning more and more each day as I learn git. At this stage, I wanted to get the site up and start blogging about my journey (Just like I am right now!). I needed to make my initial decision based on this. I got to work at learning the basics of the command line and how to setup Jekyll.

This was a bit laborious, most command line training is dry. The Jekyll documentation looks to be for an audience that has a bit more dev knowledge than I have. I felt a bit lost, with more questions that answers.

A bit more searching and I came across this youtube video that gave me the confidence to get the ball rolling. To learn new things, I’ll either throw myself headfirst into it and tinker. In this case, when the task is a little more complex I needed someone to walk me through it.

With the most daunting part of this little project out of the way, I had Jekyll set up and I had a working knowledge of how to get around it. I got to work in cutting up my code to put it into modules and getting my blog posts into markdown.

The benefits of blogging and modulated parts to the site weren’t the only things that piqued my interests. Having the infrastructure in place to be able to write Sass, making styling easier to read, interested me. I had learned about Sass a few months ago but didn’t have the infrastructure in place to use it. Jekyll gave me that ability.

I had chopped up my site and put it into Jekyll. I even re-coded the blog area so that it played with how Jekyll looks at the blog posts. With that, I had finished up the first phase of my site.

At the end of it, I can’t imagine using a static site generator for a client project. This was a neat little project for me. It gave me the chance to learn lots and puts some serious thought into my site.

As I said early, I am learning about git and my next step with the site is to put it onto Github. I want to make the deployment of site changes and blog posts that much more simple for me.

For the time being my site’s code is up on my Github as I learn all the ins and outs of it. If you wanted to see what I’ve done with my site, feel free to check it out here. If you have any suggestions for my site, let me know through Github or send me an email.


Originally published at joshtregenza.com.

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