Shiny new website layout

Written by Gwen Weinholt on 2016-10-23

This website has a new layout. The previous anti-social directory listing layout is gone and the future is shiny. I’ve been putting this off for maybe ten years now.

I still wanted a static web site because it’s so much easier to run a web server that way. So I went looking for a Node.js based static site generator. Node.js because, honestly, JavaScript is the language for the web.

There are a few of these. My previous web site was made with a self-made static site generator, and they are not actually very complicated when you get down to it. It’s just that there are more design choices than there are lines of code. The ones that caught my eye were Wintersmith and DocPad. DocPad talks about setting me free, suggesting that I’m currently a captive. Not a positive image. I went with Wintersmith because I happen to like winter. And the author is Swedish, so there’s that. The obvious choice.

Wintersmith lets you write in Markdown and it automatically turns it into web pages. Markdown is a shiny web thing. But the layout of the site itself is controlled with Jade (apparently now renamed Pug?). In my own templating engine I used SXML for both the job of Markdown and Jade. I hadn’t used Jade for more than five minutes before I started to miss quasiquote, unquote and in particular my good old friend unquote-splicing. (Search for how to make a list of tags separated by a comma). If I were to do a site generator again I’d use Markdown for the content and SXML for the structure. Scheme gets a lot of things right, in the end.