Taking it to Eleventy

Hi. You may remember me from such hits as Drafts, Shortcuts, and Scriptable and Drafts, Shortcuts, Scriptable, and Working Copy – A Workflow Story. Or you may not, because I haven’t written anything here in months.

I’m not dead yet. Just busy.

I moved the Friends With Beer podcast to my own Linode server, and it needed a new website. I could have just chopped up the Hugo theme that Vic and I were working on, but I can’t lie – I hate programming in Hugo. It’s got a Yoda-like syntax that I don’t understand the need for, or the appeal of. At first I thought Go itself was just that stupid, but I don’t think it is. I think the Go templating engine that Hugo uses is responsible for the weird syntax, and I don’t really understand why it has to be that way.

Another thing about Hugo is that, while the creators have thought of a LOT of use cases and features people want and need in a static site generator, you kind of have to adapt to how it works. The feature set is the feature set. That’s fine most of the time, but occasionally you bump up against the limits of the system.

Eleventy is different.

Eleventy is a JavaScript (Node.js) based static site generator (SSG) that provides incredible flexibility in tool and environment options. For one thing, being Node based, if you need some functionality that doesn’t come with Eleventy, you can add that functionality with an npm package. This approach gives you outstanding control over your compiling and publishing pipeline.

Anyway, long story short, I spent time learning Eleventy and throwing together a site for the podcast. I have a couple performance tweaks to make (auto-image optimization, for example), but it can certainly serve as podcast headquarters now.

I have plans for this site as well. I don’t like how I structured it when I created it in Hugo. I was learning Hugo on the fly and it really shows, including weird organizational decisions I made that resulted in the mess of folders for every individual topic type. It’s horrible. I’m going to rewrite the site in Eleventy and make it simpler and less of a sprawling mess.

I’m also kind of intrigued by the idea of Digital Gardening. I like the idea of working on ideas over time as opposed to fleshing out ideas for a single post completely before I can push it out into the world. It seems like a concept that will get me writing more frequently.

In addition, instead of a weird Links page, I think a personal wiki might be more useful for collecting and organizing topical information resources related to things I’m interested in. It seems like something that might be more useful than me writing about things better catalogued elsewhere, and that will free up my writing to be something more conceptually developmental.

Whatever that means.

In short, I’m not dead, please listen to Friends with Beer, and expect this site to split into three more focused and more organized sites: a home base, a digital garden, and a personal wiki.