This web site was neglected for far too long in a non-optimal state. I really like the design that I came up with for the site -- all of the colors and fonts and clean lines look good, if I do say so myself. But the content was severely lacking. I blame the mental fatigue of designing a web site for the lack of content creation.
But I have started anew with a mild refresh of the site and a purge of the old non-content. Primarily I was inspired by finding some other person's personal site and seeing a collection of computers. Hey, I have a bunch of old computers too. Why not show them off? There was some minor updating of the versions of libraries behind the site as well. So now I have at least one baseline reason for a web site to exist.
There are still more things to do, of course. It would be nice to be able to zoom in on images if you click on them, and I need to make my life easier when it comes to adding more content. It has been a long time since I just wrote (or, well, typed) something for myself instead of for work. I'll have to find my voice again, away from all of the regular professional concerns and topics.
So, here's to new beginnings -- better off when not entirely from scratch.
There has been a boom in the rabbit population where I live over the last couple of years. When I step out of my car after returning home, I am almost immediately surrounded by cute and fluff.
Well, I've found more fluffy bunnies to pursue in my web design too. Rather than make content to fill out my pages, I've redone a number of internals.
- In place of defining the nav structure in the Pico config file, I modified an existing categories plugin to be compatible with the pagination plugin I used for the blog.
- I created a new plugin to provide data about the contents of the assets folders to the Twig templating engine.
- Added sub-categories to the categorization plugin.
- Re-did the photo albums pages to automatically pull their data from the assets plugin I did.
- Added YAML processing to the assets plugin so that captions for the photos could be stored in the same assets folders.
I also finally added that footer I talked about in the first post. The CSS for that was particularly frustrating to figure out, but only because I'm picky about what I want. Which, of course, is that the footer be at the end of the content or the bottom of the page, whichever is lower. Can't have a proper footer hanging up in the air, now, can we?
See you next time.
My next grand adventure has been the setup of photo albums on this site, and I've run into the decision of whether I should just generate pages for everything or have the CMS handle finding image files and filling in albums every time they're loaded. Of course, I wouldn't generate static pages manually. I've already written a Python script to do that for me.
In favor of just making static pages:
- Photo albums don't really change once they're made, so why make the dynamic engine work harder every time it loads?
- I've already written a script to handle this, and it can redo everything if I fix something and want to rerun it.
- PicoCMS doesn't support providing info about images or subgroups natively. I'd have to go find and learn a plugin.
- You'll be able to look at pretty pictures sooner since I already know how to do things this way.
In favor of seeking a dynamic solution:
- It makes creating albums less hassle, reducing the number of steps to set them up. And I plan to continue creating new albums.
- After I've created more than a few photo albums, the effort to redo all of them if I decide to change something is much less.
- It's not like this is a high traffic site. The loss of efficiency isn't going to be noticeable. Don't benchmark this site.
- I have ambitions of creating themes for others to use with PicoCMS some day, and setting things up correctly now will make that easier.
So I guess the argument is about more than just ease of use in the future. It's also about saving time now or later. I've already decided it makes more sense for me to work towards a dynamic solution. This is one of the things though that makes it looks like I'm not making any progress on this site when in actuality a lot is happening behind the scenes. Maybe that's why I leave test items littered all about: so it feels like I'm actually doing something.
After over a decade of starts and stops, punctuated with realizations that I have not kept up with modern web development techniques very well at all, I have finally set about creating a personal web site with a dedication strong enough to have something to show for my efforts. Behold the trappings around these words.
Back when I last made a web site for myself, my standard method was to design the page in Macromedia Fireworks then cut the menu items and other parts into separate image files and arrange everything with tables. Clearly such techniques are frowned upon these days (and what better way to sound old than to use the phrase "frowned upon these days"). But I've found that I just don't keep at things if I have no hook into what's going on at all, so I began designing this site in Fireworks as well.
I have always been a fan of minimalist design, and it turns out that rectangles are some of the easiest things to create with CSS. Once I got the design converted to some basic HTML and CSS, the next adventure was, of course, getting web fonts set up. One can't proceed to the programming phase if the site doesn't look nice, after all. It would be too distracting. After some experimentation, I settled on Delm and Core Sans M. The fact that they were on sale might also have been a factor.
The next step was to figure out how to not deal with duplicate text. That is, I wanted the menu to show up on every page, but don't want to deal with having to update every single page on the site if I change my mind about a category or change a filename. I've had success with simply using PHP includes in the past to take care of this problem. However, I soon realized that if I was serious about properly organizing things, I would have a lot of PHP coding to do. It would probably have been fun, but it was daunting enough that I spent some time researching available CMS platforms. Boy howdy are there a lot of them out there. Wordpress would be overkill, as would most any CMS that includes user account setup. I lucked into finding PicoCMS, which is what I've used here.
The theming was pretty straightforward, and the performance seems to be quite good so far. Of course, I haven't really taxed it much yet. I may not ever. This may end up being the only post on this site. But I do still have plans, and some more things I'd like to add to this site:
- Implement 'show more' links on blog posts
- Add photos to liven up the place
- Make the side menu more mobile friendly
- Customize the 404 error pages
- Put in a footer
I guess my next post will be about this web site too. How very meta. But it is what I've been working on lately, so it is at least temporally relevant. See you next time!