Blog Up

David Somers bio photo By David Somers Comment

One of the things required for the MA Fine Art Digital is to have a blog. It seems that WordPress is the favored way to go. However, I’m going down a different route: a static site generated by jekyll.

A static site has several advantages over a dynamic one. Firstly, there is no content-management system (CMS) such as WordPress to wrangle with. Secondly, because there is no CMS, there is no database to provision and maintain. Thirdly, the web server only needs to transfer files; it does not need any server-side processing such as SSI, server-side scripting languages such as PHP, or platforms such as Node.js to be installed. What this means in practical terms is there is less to go wrong, no maintenance, and a large dose of mitigation against attack vectors.

Another reason for going down the jekyll route is that it generates the pages from text files that are lightly-formatted using markup language called markdown. I maintain a lot of notes in markdown, created mainly in iA Writer or to a less extent Sublime Text, which means there is minimal friction moving and editing my notes over to the blog.

Building the website using jekyll is fairly trivial. The content is managed as a set of directories and folders on my computer. The jekyll command is executed (from the command line in the folder where the files for the site live), the site is built, and I can then transfer it to the web host I use. Of course, there are alternatives ways of doing this and if you’re looking for a fully-hosted markdown-based editing and web publishing platform, then there is ghost or to a lesser extent typed which is newer and currently lacks a few features (such as the ability to custom themes and has a status of ‘upcoming’).

The initial visual design for this site is based on So Simple, a Jekyll Theme, which I’ve made a few tweaks to suit my needs at the current time. The content is structured around three elements:

  • The journal, which are the blog entries discussing the regular tutorials, and my research and practice.
  • The proposal.
  • An index, which lists site’s entries based on tags that I’ve applied to them.
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