• Building Static Sites with Node.js and Wintersmith

    When I’ve spoken on the topic or even when I posted my recent guide to getting started with Jekyll, the question I always get is if there is a comparable static site generator to Jekyll that is built with JavaScript and available on npm. The reason people cite is that they aren’t comfortable with Ruby and thus have trouble when they encounter problems with Jekyll or are unable to customize it completely to their needs. Well, there’s good and bad news.

    First, the bad news… I have found nothing comparable to Jekyll in terms of overall features, documentation and community. Now I don’t know every engine out there, but, so far, there’s nothing that even comes close to fully matching Jekyll.

    The good news, however, is that I found Wintersmith to be a viable Jekyll replacement. It has a lot of the key features and is extensible. Plus, there are a reasonable amount of extensions out there for it already. On the other hand, the documentation is awful (let’s be honest) and the community is small. So, if you run into a problem, you’re stuck reviewing the source code. On the upside, I found the source code is pretty self-explanatory when I needed to rely on it.

    Given the lack of a good getting started guide in the Wintersmith documentation, I wrote a two-part series for Sitepoint that walks you through the entire process of building a site. It follows the same exact format of my Jekyll guide covering everything from installation to templating, creating posts, custom metadata and custom data.

    The source code for the example is part of my Static Site Samples GitHub project which also includes the aforementioned Jekyll sample as well as examples for Harp and Middleman.

  • A Guide to Building Static Sites with Jekyll

    As I’ve posted about recently, I’ve been speaking a lot about comparing static site engines. There are a ton of options out there (389 as of today, according to this site). However, based on my personal experience, I always recommend Jekyll - granted, that’s based on having used 5 of the 389 so far.

    I already have a GitHub project where I have built the same project multiple times with different engines as a means of comparison. The readme will guide you with installing and running each of these should you choose.

    Now, if you wanted to learn how to use Jekyll using this sample, I have written a detailed guide to getting started with Jekyll for the Telerik Developer Network. It walks through the most common things you need to know about Liquid templating as well as how to create and build your Jekyll site.

    I hope you enjoy it!

    P.S. One common questions I get whenever I recommend Jekyll is from people who don’t know Ruby and would prefer a solution written in JavaScript/Node.js and, preferably, available via npm. The GitHub project includes two, Harp and Wintersmith. I have a follow up article that should be published any day now that walks through the same steps laid out in the Jekyll tutorial, but for Wintersmith. I’ll post about that as soon as it is out.

  • Can Web Audio be Useful?

    Next month, I will be presenting at the Fluent Conference in San Francisco on the topic of “Practical Web Audio.” The idea here is that most every demo or presentation about web audio (including my own) have been fun and cool but not practical unless you build games or music software.

    So, are there useful purposes for web audio in a standard web app? I wrote an article called Adding Audio to Web Apps that begins to explore some ideas. In almost every case, the demo uses very brief portions of audio to try to add context to some form of input. Notifications seemed obvious - but, admittedly, others are harder to make a strong case for except in very specific circumstances. These were just some of my initial ideas - I have a few others and some variations to the ones I showed already that I am working on.

    Have you used web audio in your web app for something useful? If so, please share (and maybe I can even show it at Fluent).

  • Comparing Static Site Engines

    On February 18, I had the pleasure of gaving a talk to the San Francisco HTML5 User Group. The topic was static site engines, covering the basics of what they are and what they are good for (or what they are not good for). The latter half of the session focused on comparing three popular static site engines: Jekyll, Middleman and Harp.

    You can view the presentation below (I am also giving an updated version of this presentation at DevNexus in Atlanta later this month).

    Sample Application

    In order to compare the engines, I created a simple sample site, using data from the Adventure Time Wiki. The site is intentionally simple, but uses things like custom post attributes, custom global attributes, data and, of course, posts.

    You can get the samples as well as the slide deck on GitHub. I am hoping to add additional samples in the coming weeks.

    Recording

  • Patterns of Development

    Patterns are something that you cannot view close up - a narrow view obscures the pattern. However, given distance and time, we can begin to make out the sequences that repeat. This is one of the few benefits of being old, which I am compared to many developers.

    In this post, I am not talking about development patterns as in software design patterns (or anti-patterns), but rather patterns in attitudes and behavior among developers that change the way a large number of us approach our work.

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