Colophon: How I Maintain my Website
After years of struggling with pre-packaged frameworks (e.g., Flask, web.py) and static-site generators (e.g., Jekyll), I gave up!
My conclusion is that they don't scale down and don't suite my needs. I need a custom workflow to generate and build my pages. All these existing frameworks are great in what they do, but they are just this close to what I needed, yet not quite exactly what I needed.
So, my approach from now on is to take the best bits from each functionality I need, and package them together my way.
Functionalities and Best Tools
I need only basic functionalities:
- convert from X to Y (e.g., from Markdown to HTML, from BibTeX or LaTeX to HTML),
- procure and package static files.
There exist some solid tools for these essential functionalities:
- pandoc for general-purpose multi-format conversion,
- pandoc-citeproc for Markdown to BibTeX with citation support,
- browserify to add a JS library with ease,
- node-sass for SASS to CSS (with minification support),
- uglifyjs for JS minification,
- npm to keep dependecies and static files in order.
The Overall Workflow
The overall workflow is orchestrated by a simple shell script (
which essentially implements the following:
_input/*/*.md --pandoc--> _output/*/*.html _src/js/*.js --browserify | uglifyjs--> _output/s/js/app.js _src/css/*.scss --node-sass--> _output/s/css/app.css _static/* --cp -R--> _output/s/*
Dead simple, and the tools are not inter-dependent. One day I can decide to drop node-sass and replace it with something else.
Behind the Curtain
There's a little bit behind the scene, which is handled by
npm and a
package.json file to take care of procuring static files (e.g., CSS
frameworks, web fonts, JS libraries).
How I use it?
Whenever I need to change something, I work in the
_input folder, and type
./build.sh when I'm done. This builds the output into
_output, which I
symlinked to the working copy of a separate Git
repository that I use to serve the final