Building My Site Part I: Decisions
Making decisions can be an arduous task. With the blitz of build-tools and boilerplates it can be surprisingly complex to arrive at a well-informed selection of technologies. It seems like the more you know, the less you do.
With that, here’s what I ended up with, and why.
Some History #
Before all this I had a self-hosted version of Ghost. It’s a deadly platform and incredibly easy to get up and running with. After a while I decided to move to a hosted version with them when I had less time for maintenance. It was less for me to think about. It also meant I couldn’t break the server which happens when I start tinkering too much. I could rest easy knowing these folks had it all sorted.
When I had a bit more time, I moved to GitHub Pages to have a bit more control over the build. I really liked the idea of being able to make theme-related changes that take effect with a single
Not long after, I started to long for a bit more control over the functionality not only afforded by the front-end, but by what happens behind the curtain as well.
Headless CMS #
This is the new cool kid on the block, and I wanted to see what it was all about. After looking through a few options, I had a go of Contentful. I had a blog prototype set up pretty quickly with Vue.js as a single page application. It was pretty nifty if I do say so myself. I gave myself a pat on the back and thought "yep, this is it".
After about 20 minutes, however, I realised I needed server-side rendering to make it more accessible. I wanted to get the ball rolling quickly, and this was something that I felt would be a bit of a time sink. I scrapped it and decided to keep moving.
I’ve worked a lot with PHP-based projects including WordPress, ExpressionEngine and Laravel. I wanted to use something that I was familiar with in order to extend it with any custom functionality I might need/want. The Twig templating language is also something I’m quite fond of when it completely changed how I worked with WordPress. Lucky for me, this is where Craft came in.
I’ve used it before, and really liked how straight-forward it was to get going with. I thought about using WordPress, and while I still have great time for it, I wanted to explore something different.
Craft is also nearing it’s release of version 3, so I figured it was a good time to get back into it and see what’s changed since I last used it. Spoiler: it’s looking pretty frickin’ good. They also have a generous pricing plan for personal use: it’s free!
With that I pulled down the latest version of V3 that was available and started porting my posts over.
Laravel Mix #
Again, familiarity. Laravel Mix wraps itself around webpack like a blanket with a high thread count, and gives you a dead-simple way to get up and running quickly. If you need to dig deeper you can extend the configuration to suit your needs.
It was recently updated to include async/await straight out of the box, which is one less thing to hack about. I like not having to think sometimes, even if that saves me manually adding a dependency and updating a dotfile.
I stated earlier that I have a tendency to break things when I have the terminal open in front of me. Time progressed and since then I’ve learned enough to be dangerous. I signed back up with Digital Ocean because this time I had a secret weapon — Laravel Forge.
Forge is suitable for any PHP project, and provisions a server with a few clicks. It also lets me watch a branch on a repo and can deploy any time a push is detected. It’ll run a script as well, which means I can run things like
npm run production to create a production build of my assets.
Here We Are #
This has led to the site you’re currently on today. I can’t say it will always be this way, but for now I’m really happy with the end-result. You might notice the common theme of familiarity with these decisions. That was something that occurred after the ideas had settled. I wanted a solid base to work from, something that I had initial experience with to get something up and running quickly. Who’s to say I won’t end up with a headless CMS? Maybe when I learn more about server-side rendering I’ll pick up where I left off. Until then, I have more reasons than ever to keep tinkering and exploring what else I can do with this setup.
I accept comments via email, and clicking "Add Comment" will open your default email client. If the thoughts of your native email client opening horrifies you, you can instead email your comment to firstname.lastname@example.org.Add Comment