This website

This my personal website is a place I use to try out new things. This project has been running in some form or another for a little over 10 years now.

History of the site

The fuzzy pre-git history

I originally setup the domain sometime in high school (late grade 9 maybe? I don't really remember). I believe that the very first version of the site was a static HTML page. At the time I was learning some basic HTML, PHP, and cgi-bin Perl with my uncle.

The first version of the site I can find was one from 2nd year when I was in my second year University. If you look at the Internet archive it has a (now cliché) "under construction" message.

Previous static site generators

This site has used a few different static site generators (a software tool that rendered content as static html pages).

The first static site generator I used was Pelican: I wrote a blog post about it when I did so. I choose Pelican at the time because I was comfortable with Python and Pelican seemed like the best option at the time.

The next year I ported the content to Jekyll: Again I wrote about it. I did this because I was finding Pelican difficult to setup on new machines (I don't remember why). At the time Jekyll was supported by GitHub pages which was attractive to be because I didn't want to spend money hosting the site while I was in university (not that I would seek it out now).

Jekyll worked well for a while. This was a time where a wrote more by writing about cool things I learned from Wikipedia (I have taken these posts down because I wasn't particularly proud of the quality of the writing). After a while the site sat dormant. In the beginning this was because I wasn't interested in adding to it, but later it was because I was finding it difficult to setup Jekyll (mostly because I never got fully comfortable with the Ruby ecosystem.

To address the "burden of setup problem" I switched the static site to Hugo: And I wrote about it. I did this because Hugo is built in Go and has a design goal of being a single executable which meant that writing new blog posts would be as easy as cloning the repository and installing the executable. I also switched from using GitHub pages to Netlify (mostly in order to try something new).

Today

Today this site is built using the Gatsby static site generator: I wrote about it. I first used Gatsby when I was making a wedding website for a friend. My friend and their partner wasn't super technical so I wanted them to be able to edit content without having to learn how to commit things. I used Gatsby setup with AirTable as a source for content. I was quite pleased with how this turned out so I decided to port my personal blog to use Gatsby as well.

So far I have been enjoying it. I think the thing I am most proud of with this website is the end to end tests. For every commit it uses Puppeteer to check that pages render, don't log any errors to the console, and take screen shots.

Plans for the future

I don't really have specific plans for the site. I like having a place to try out new ideas with low stakes and it will continue to be used for that purpose. I will also use the site to improve my writing, which like all skills, require practice.


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