It’s been a long time since Google changed Blogger to no longer output static sites. I’m in a week-long conference and putting together some ideas on how to train and learn about technology concepts and figured if I move my site off of Blogger that I will be more likely to write up something new. I finally got around to updating this blog to not use blogger and instead use Jekyll. My thinking is that I want the dead simplest site config and setup that I won’t be tempted to ticker with and adjust various layout and style stuff. I want to be able to switch between themes as I will inevitably find a theme that I like better. I write up what I used and steps I took to remember how to update this site in the future.
A few resources that were super handy
- Blogger’s backup - Google may want to eat all your readers’ data, but at least they are cool enough to still support a take-out feature 9 years after they turned off FTP. In just a few seconds it gave me a full, xml backup of everything I ever wrote. It’s pretty humbling to have everything only be 380kb.
- Jekyll’s blogger instructions - I chose Jekyll out of simplicity because I’ve been using it lately for a few other projects. I don’t know ruby, but the docs made by Jekyll are so great that I don’t need to know ruby. There’s a bit of interesting discussion about which generator to use and I may eventually come back and redo this in something better.
- Jekyll Themes Library - So many free and paid themes to look at. Specifically, the bulma theme seemed easy enough and is supported by the people at JetBrains whose name I recognize from when I used to pay for IDEs. If I ever buy another IDE, it will probably be made by those folks. They also were neat enough to provide free licenses to a few open source projects I worked on for many years. There are a lot of blogs and sites trying to collect these and I struggled because they were all very pretty and image heavy, I’m not going to make any images, so I don’t want a beautiful template that wants an image for very post, so the nice looking Jekyll Showcase wasn’t useful for me here. Brice Vallieres’ was helpful, so was https://github.com/planetjekyll/awesome-jekyll-themes.
Things I had to do to get it working
- See above for export, theme setup.
- Not trusting exports, I made a copy of the entire site (wget -p -k -r -l1 –no-parent https://www.prepend.com), checked it out locally, and stored it someplace save (ie, dropbox) in case I screw this up real bad. This finally made me install homebrew after all this time because MacOS doesn’t have wget naturally or through xcode command line tools. I had to spend 10 minutes checking out what the heck their install does and validating my download before running.
- Google Analytics. Funny that I had never set up analytics on this site. I really, really like awstats that my host provides so I suppose I never needed it. I had 13 other accounts, most forgotten about, but not one for my blog. Google allows up to 100 accounts so it was easy to set up, hard to pick a time zone though as it restricts options for me to use a time zone for the US, if you choose US. I guess no love for expats is currently supported. It’s pretty cool that bulma supports GA now so I didn’t have to do anything other than just specify the google_analytics property in _config.xml.
- Monkeying with the theme settings. Finally gave up and kept minima
- Browsed theme sites trying to make up my mind. Not caring about design and look, but worrying that it doesn’t look just right to me.
- To make sure all the deep links to various posts continue to work, I updated the default permalink attribute in _config.yml to use blogger’s link structure, “permalink: /:categories/:year/:month/:title.html” I have to remember
- Resist the urge to just make my own. It will be easier in the long run to use a theme that someone else works on and loves.
- Changed over to using https://github.com/renyuanz/leonids because I like being able to browse by tag, category, and archive date.
- Remembering that I made a logo image 10 years ago by randomly dragging the mouse around mspaint and copying it into the theme’s image folder in assets/img
- Manually copied down categories.html, archive.html, feed.xml, and tags.html from leonids github. Wish that feed.xml link was displayed somewhere.
- Resist urge to just update a template.
- Create a private github repo to store this stuff, prepend-blog.
- Set JEKYLL_ENV=production, run bundle exec jekyll serve, look at everything, run bundle exec jekyll build to generate _site
- FTP all the contents of _site to prepend.com’s public_html
- Populated the owner attributes that leonid template uses, specifically google.analytics.
Things I considered
- I thought about using WordPress as my wife uses it pretty extensively. While the editing tools were nice, I don’t like how it requires PHP and a database and while I don’t get any significant traffic figured I would save my ISP the burden of running resources I don’t really need just to make words available on the web.
Themes I kind of like, but didn’t use
- https://htmlreference.io/ - really nice and clean, but doesn’t apply for my blog
- https://github.com/broccolini/athena - wish it had longer posts on home page and tags list page
- https://github.com/renyuanz/leonids - I liked the tags and categories, but didn’t like the “share on google plus.” This isn’t an active theme any more, so that makes sense.