Charles Childers

blog | parable | retro | ios apps | fountain pens

Some notes on the new website implementation

Most of the time I liked SquareSpace. It was initially easy to setup and maintain. But I ran into some issues: blog posts in Markdown didn't always format correctly; I couldn't edit pages on my iPad; and there was no way for me to make an actual backup.

The last one was the deal breaker. SquareSpace has an export option, which theroretically generates a Wordpress compatible XML file. (I didn't test importing this into Wordpress). This was messy and difficult to process into the individual posts and pages. I also noted that it wasn't really practical to reimport this file.

So I decided to go back to hosting my site on my own server again. I've learned a few things since I last did this, and now have a much leaner and easier to work with framework for handling the site.

All pages and blog posts are now in Markdown. I keep and edit a copy offline on my iPad. When ready I upload the changes to the server where a cron job rebuilds the HTML pages that are served. There's no CGI, no databases, nothing fancy. Just some simple templates that the HTML get merged with and a single CSS file for layout and formatting.

I've been pleased with this so far. It's very nice to be able to keep things clean and readable (and easily editable), and I can make a backup really quickly whenever I need to. I expect to refine my tools over the next year. I'd like to add a small CGI application to handle triggering updates (instead of the current cron job) and automate commits to a git repository. But it's all working now, and that's what counts.