I’ve been messing around a bit with Static Site Generators just lately. I’ve tried to get up and running with a few now, got a bit lost, overwhelmed and frustrated, and bounced along to the next one. When you have a StaticGen browser tab open, with its seemingly endless list of SSGs, it’s all too easy to keep bouncing along to the next one.
I’ve ended up getting my toes wet in my own little puddle that lies just tangential to the SSG pond.
First, I beefed up my own Gulp workflow to incorporate Nunjucks. Now my own nascent static site boilerplate For-the-Whim has powerful templating capabilities, along with its Sass compiling and asset optimisation. That’ll do me nicely. I reckon I’ll take it one step further though, and look into adding blog functionality. That way, I can move this personal WordPress blog over to my own custom built static site framework. That’ll feel like an achievement; a valuable learning exercise resulting in a very fast, effectively free, and effortlessly secure website. Watch this space.
Second, I decided to make a documentation site when I stumbled upon Docsify, which I don’t believe counts as a SSG, but whatever. You say potatoes, I say spuds. Making a simple, generic documentation site seemed like the lowest hanging fruit in this whole no-backend-but-still-feels-kinda-dynamic-on-some-level realm. And so it proved to be.
Once it occurred to me that a great use-case for this would be to archive all of my song lyrics, the rest was easy. For once (genuinely, for once) the quick start docs actually gave me all I needed; they delivered me a working website in minutes with no confusion, false starts, supplementary googling, and existential anguish. I would say that it took little more than an hour to get the document and sidebar structure how I wanted, settle on some simple configuration settings, and make a few css tweaks. The Docsify documentation explained everything. Then it was a simple case of fleshing out my site for realz.
I spent many, many hours trawling through my hard drive, copy-pasting the contents of old .rtf/.pages/.doc documents into markdown files, getting them consistently formatted, and figuring out an accurate chronology of my songwriting output. Turns out I have completed 134 songs with lyrics. Dang, I really like the sound of my own voice, huh? My gloomy, puerile inner voice.
I deployed the site on my favourite thing in the whole world ever right now: Netlify. Oh, man. Once logged in to Netlify you can deploy a new site in seconds with just a few clicks. It simply watches your project’s GitHub repository for changes. When you push a change to the applicable branch, Netlify automatically updates your live site. It even runs the build process for you, if that’s part of your setup, so you never have to generate or track a ‘dist’ folder at all. It can do loads of other things, too. Do yourself a favour and use it.
A successful weekend, then, launching my lyrics archive with help from Docsify and Netlify.