A New Year, a New Site

Ok, the site isn’t new as in design or content, but the underlying tech is. I guess it is also a little late to be writing a new-year post. Oh well…

Hosting

I made a resolution this year to support more independent businesses. This site was originally hosted by GitHub Pages, but I decided I didn’t want all my eggs in one basket (being my remote was enough—no need for them to handle building and hosting as well). So I chose Linode. It is an independently held company, has been around for a long time, and has great customer support. Easy choice.

Site generators

I was using Jekyll because of its deep integration with GitHub Pages, as I liked knowing my site was being automatically built each time I pushed. I wasn’t in love though: I don’t know Ruby, nor do I want to learn it.

I make iOS/macOS apps, so I landed on a relatively new project called Publish. It is written in Swift and works with SPM, so hacking on it in Xcode is a joy. I also am wanting to improve my Swift, so it made perfect sense. Granted at first I thought some of its selling points, like type safety, were kinda overkill for making a website, but in the end I’ve come to really appreciate them.

Publish makes it really easy to get up-and-running, as it supports all the things you typically need out of the box: pages, sections, posts, templates. Nonetheless, I hit a snag when trying to support title-less blog posts¹. In order to get that working, I had to use a healthy dose of conditionals in my templates.

Next, I wanted to keep my draft posts from being published until I was ready—I did like this feature of Jekyll. Getting that required a little more work, though. I needed to fork Publish and add a publishing step that could handle removing items. The actual feature was pretty easy to implement, but now I’m just hoping my changes get merged.

Servers

In the spirit of supporting indie’s, I landed on using Site.js. It is made by a little non-for-profit with good values, and it handles:

It saves me a ton of hassle, so I decided to use it locally and on my Linode. It auto-restarts and keeps itself up-to-date, so I feel secure and confident in leaving it alone. Plus, it’s always nice when you can use the same setup locally and remotely.

Whenever I feel like getting an extra pair of eyes before publishing, I use Emporter. It makes my local server visible to the World Wide Web, and is wicked fast at doing it. It’s simple, reliable, and made by my good friend Mikey. What could be better?

Final touches

When I want to work on the core (templates, publishing steps, etc.), I fire up Xcode. For writing Swift, it’s hard to beat. When it comes time to write prose, I turn to Bear. It has been a loyal companion over the years.

As I write, entr watches for changes and rebuilds everything. Site.js then refreshes my browser. I also use Site.js to publish everything. Take a look at the Makefile if you are interested in the details.

And that’s it.

  1. Title-less posts have really helped keep me blogging more often, as I don’t have to stew over a title/theme/etc. They also work great with Micro.blog, which in turn helps me easily cross-post to Twitter.