wnd's weblog

Website overhaul

26 Dec 2019 02:27:11 diary, software

wnd.katei.fi website is now generated with Jekyll with photos handled mostly by Sigal. Jekyll is used unmodified, but with two custom plugins. I had to modify Sigal slightly to make passing its output to Jekyll more bearable. Both use custom themes. Finally, there’s a Makefile to orchestrate builds, link checks, and pushing changes live. All this means site layout has changed dramatically. While I personally strongly dislike browsing Teh Web on mobile, I’ve spent quite a bit of effort to improve readability on such devices. It’s not perfect still.

As I decommissioned my personal server, I had to relocate my website(s) as well. At the time I wanted to go with minimal effort, and not worry about my dynamically generated weblog.

On 23 September 2019, with the warm summer days only a distant memory, I started working on a replacement. I turned to Jekyll to build the bulk of it, and Sigal to build the photo galleries. All this meant I’d spend a bit of time to revamp the entire website.

Neither tool comes without limitations. Jekyll loves file suffixes. One clearly can’t do without. This issue could be mitigated with HTTP server configuration, but I don’t know if it’s worth the trouble. I also lost autogenerated post category and date collections. Eventually, I resorted to manually maintained page for the former, and decided to leave the latter for another time - likely to be forgotten.

As for Sigal, it is clearly designed to generate a finished product and not something to be passed for another processor, like Jekyll. Also, it seems only I care about providing image dimensions for <img> tag as no ready-made theme for Sigal generate these. Similarly it seems that JavaScript is a requirement these days. Eventually I managed to hack a functional theme myself. As for lost functionality, for now, I’ll go without photo tags and originals.

Then there are the plugins for Jekyll - not to mention changes to Sigal. With some motivation I’ll get to clean up and release these later. The entire site still works (perfectly) without JavaScript, but there are some placed where JavaScript is used when available. This mostly affects mobile.

In addition to Jekyll and Sigal, mobile web also turned to be a major issue. It wasn’t that my layout was using fixed sizes, but rather the fact that mobiles would render paragraph text to different sizes depending on context. I also took the opportunity to give a shot at some new(er) technologies and techniques. These mostly affect my photos, and not all shown or accessable by conventional means. :-)

I didn’t anticipate the entire process to take three months of calendar time. It did. Obviously most of it was procrastination. Then there was my reluctance to release anything with know issues. There are some rough edges; just try switching between portrait and landscape. Old links should mostly work, but not all. I may end up changing some links later. File timestamps are wrong.

Still, with all the know issues, I’ve finally decided to release. This is one step on my journey to accept compromise when I absolutely don’t have to. Maybe this lowers the bar for tying the loose ends at another occasion. Maybe that means more actual content. Maybe.