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Out With the Old, In With the New

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 Cabal dependencies.

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, something in Java, JavaScript, Ruby, or any of a dozen toy languages. On top 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 modern web).

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...