New Website

30 Jul 2014

My old website was a nice demonstration of my knowledge of Django, but I decided recently that my web development knowledge had exceeded what it was showing off. The main thing that annoyed me about my last website was that I was hosting what essentially was a static website on a web framework meant for dynamic websites. It was time for a update.

I decided to go with Jekyll which had everything I wanted:

  1. Write posts in markdown and have them auto-magically show up on the website as HTML.
  2. Really easy to host on Github, I just push new posts to my repo and I’m done.
  3. It’s a static website, so it loads waaay faster than my old Django blog that has to generate each page from a template on every request.
  4. It’s developer friendly. There are a ton of plugins and it’s really easy to write my own if I ever need to.

I traditionally have used Twitter Bootstrap for styling pretty much every site I’ve made, but in the spirit of minimalism I wanted to roll my own so I wouldn’t have to import all the extraneous stuff Bootstrap provides that I don’t need. The only thing I really wanted was a grid system, and it’s actually not that set-up on your own. You can read about the details of my full implementation in the README for this website’s github repo.

The hardest part of this project though, was the magic on the front page. I found a wonderful article by Maissan about how to simulate vines growing in Javascript and adapted it to display multi-colored tendrils that grew randomly on the background of my homepage. I was inspired by the Fred Brooks quote, now displayed on my front page, to code something that would express the sort of “exertion of imagination” that makes programming such a joy.

I’m quite happy with the result. It’s probably the most complicated canvas drawing application I’ve made to date. Initially, it was really CPU intensive, but I managed to optimize the code and fine-tune it so that it ran consistently under 20% (on my machine), which was actually better than a few chrome extensions I was running anyways.

Hopefully this new blog will also inspire me to write more posts as my last post was almost a year ago now.