As I discussed last month, I’ve identified a need to make a few changes here. The primary change, and the biggest, was to get this site off Tumblr. Now Tumblr is fine for certain things, but text-heavy blog posts certainly aren’t one of them. Also, tumblogs (is that word even used anymore?) don’t rank well on Google.
I first considered WordPress in its various forms. It’s pretty much the standard for blogging these days, and I have lots of experience with it from years ago. I did start the process of pricing up hosting, but I kept getting drawn to static site generators. I won’t even attempt to discuss what that is, or how it differs from dynamic sites (like Wordpress). Instead, I’ll point you to this site that uses the analogy of news kiosks and telephone operators to explain it all… obviously.
Maybe it’s the geeky coder side of me, but the idea of a streamlined website hosted on something like Github, using bloat-free tools, appealed. Also, it’s free. That really appealed. My content and my posts aren’t on some heavy database either. They’re simple text files living on my computer. There are lots of other benefits too, like speed and security, if that’s your thing. The process of setting it all up though? Well, that was an experience.
I’ve programmed in the past and in another life I would have probably done it as a career (maybe if this writing thing doesn’t pan out…), so I didn’t go into this blind. But I certainly had to rely on Google for a lot for troubleshooting. I’m still not completely au fait on the interaction between the various elements that make up my site - Gitlab, Hugo and Netlify - but the important thing is it works seamlessly now, and I’ve become clued up enough that I could do it again in a fraction of the time (I recently did as much on a new computer).
There’s a lot of command line trickery involved, but that’s not a problem and I’ve actually begun to appreciate working that way. I’ve finally (finally!) got a setup where I can load and edit a local version of the website with one easy command. And when I’m happy with my updates, I can upload it all to the live version with three simple Git commands. No FTP, no refreshing the browser after every upload, no waiting for pages to load. I’d highly recommend it.