It feels a bit cheap to start off the year with another short piece about yet
another revamp of the site, but so it is.
I've had this site up for quite a while now, and time and again I run into the
same problem: I want to add some content, but... Fill this in with anything
from "I can't think of what to write" to "I've got a problem with the site
generator," and you've got my litany of reasons why, after all this time, there
is so little in the way of content here.
Up until now, I've been using Hakyll to turn Markdown
into a static web site. I had my own visual style set up, and everything was
good (I thought). The main issue I ended up having with Hakyll was that in the
lengthy spans between attempts at writing, I would have either lost my
local Hakyll install to a reformat/reinstall, or I would have forgotten how
to use it. Of course, the latter is easily fixed by browsing the online
documentation. The former, however, is a bit of a pain -- Hakyll needs to be
compiled, and that requires a massive installation of Haskell and
Originally, I had chosed Hakyll above other generators because I was under the
impression that a compiled Haskell program would be leaner than, for example,
of that, I was interested in learning Haskell as my first functional language,
and using a Haskell-based generator seemed like a good way to facilitate this.
This all turned out to be a poor choice -- I never did get around to learning
Haskell, and while the generator itself may have been lean, the dependencies
certainly were not. In the end, I foud myself spending more time fighting
with Haskell than with writing any content for the site itself.
So, as the end of January started drawing nearer (and my write an article
bullet point remained unfulfilled), I had to consider the roadblocks between
myself and my goals. Hakyll (and Haskell) had to go.
In its place, I decided to give Pelican a shot. It seems at least as
light as Hakyll was (probably much more so, but the Python libraries
are common to a number of applications on my system), and has the benefit of
being written (and managed) with Python, a language that's far more integral
to the Linux ecosystem. The only drawback, so far, is that I need to
either go through the process of converting my site theme from Hakyll to
Pelican, or use/modify an existing Pelican theme. I've gone with the latter,
as you might be able to tell, opting to fork the pelican-sober theme
and modify it to suit my tastes. My fork remains, of course, open source, so
feel free to fork it and modify it as you please.
Finally, I've backed off a little bit on my policy of a strictly static and
self-contained site -- the Github banner is hosted by Amazon AWS,
and I have yet to completely trawl through the theme code, but I expect there
may be an external resource or two in use there. Also, for the sake of turning
this (hopefully) into a conversation, I've decided to use Disqus to
work in comments. Hopefully these concessions don't put anyone totally off,
but I don't expect they would (in comparison to the majority of the so-called
So, that takes care of the technology problem(s)... now if only I could find
a simple solution to "wirter's block" before too long...