A Journey To A Better Blog

Switching to Github Pages

Posted by Tom Cole on September 16, 2012

When I originally started this blog it was hosted on Blogger and I spent vast amounts of time tweaking it to get it just how I wanted. In fact I spent so much time tweaking it that I barely posted anything. I found myself fighting against the platform and spending my time hacking instead of publishing. I left Blogger behind and dived into writing my own blog software to host myself, I tried out Orchard, half wrote my own in MVC but was still spending my time mucking around with code rather than blogging.

Having spoken to other devs this seems like a common story so I started looking for a simpler, cleaner approach. I settled on Github Pages through the Jekyll engine. This allowed me to generate a static site (e.g. just HTML, CSS, Javascript) but still gave me the ability to template files and avoid lots of duplicate code. The great thing about Jekyll is that all the content is separated out into Markdown format. I can scribble down some quick Markdown in Markdown Pad and have it published through Github for Windows really easily with little friction.

Whilst Jekyll gave me a really clean publishing and templating model it did not give me layout, I’d spent a lot of time on this previously and was now keen to avoid hand crafting this myself. Since the vast majority of my own blog reading is now on either my iPhone I also wanted the blog to look good on mobile, ideally without having separate mobile views. Enter: Twitter Bootstrap, a great set of CSS and Javascript that allows you to forget about much of the tweaking to get a cross-browser / cross-device site working. I’ve heard other people slight Bootstrap by saying sites built with it all look the same but the sites look fantastic and development with it is really simple, within a couple of hours of playing around I had a good looking blog up and running and could start to focus on content.

Now I’ve got no excuses for not posting more often.