Time to React: Cleaning Out the Site

March 04, 2018

clean I wanted to get back into writing some blog articles because I’ve been doing some exciting things at work and in my spare time, so it was time to dust off the old blog site and see what I had to work with. My previous site served me well as a place to share some side projects, show off some freelance web design work that I did while I was studying, and then became a bit of a testament to how little I have written over the last 3 years. It was a static site generated by Jekyll, from a time when I was really trying to get into Ruby and exploring the possibility of writing my own static site generator.

When I returned to it a couple of months ago, I was left feeling a bit disconnected. That stack doesn’t reflect the technologies that I work with anymore, and as my website was always a playground for new ideas something had to change. So in a very short space of time I acted like a classic developer. I had started with an idea to write some new posts, and I ended up creating a branch, deleting (almost) everything, and staring at the possibility of rewriting the whole site from the ground up.

So what was I looking for now? Ideally something that I could use to generate a static site, but using modern web technologies such as Webpack, and React. I started out trying to write something lightweight myself, but in researching answers to my problems, I came across a pretty great project.

The Great Gatsby

Gatsby is a static site generator written in Javascript, and powered by Webpack. Not only does it provide a bunch of plugins for adding functionality, but it allows you to convert markdown posts into a React powered static site. It was basically everything I was looking to create. So I grabbed some example code and got to work. Everything has been built from the ground up using Styled Components and React. That’s a really modern tech stack compared to what was here before. Also, you can query your data to inject into components using GraphQL, even more fancy new technology! I was sold, and I’d heartily recommend it to any developer wanting to create a static site now.

So (if you are reading this around the time it was published…) you are seeing the minimal feature set version of the site that I could create. It shows blog posts that I write in markdown, it has an archive, and an about page. It will also serve as a base for me to add more functionality as and when I need it, and keeps the content nicely abstracted away from whatever I do with the code. It’s very much a work in progress, and very much a learning curve for me in a lot of ways - which is what makes it so interesting to do - and that’s what my site needed, a bit of interest again!

Fresh Content

I kept a couple of old articles that still get some traffic, and occasionally people still drop by with a comment on them, but everything else that has grown irrelevant with time has gone. I’m going to be using this as a place to write about my newer interests - mainly Continuous Delivery, experimenting with Javascript for DevOps, and Home Automation. Maybe now that I’ve rewritten the site I can actually get around to writing some of those articles…