09 Nov 2013

A New Hope

The year 2013 marks the 10 year anniversary of the domain mdworld.nl, although before that, the site existed on free webhosting space. For quite some time it was a static site, then slightly enriched with PHP for some small web applications.

In March 2010 I migrated to Drupal 6 as a CMS. For the 10 year existance I planned to upgrade again. At first I just wanted to upgrade to Drupal 7 and to redesign the theme, but it has been bothering me for a while that this can all be a lot more streamlined, that I can use new tools, migrate from a PHP server to NodeJS, integrate websockets, and allow more flexibility on every page. That’s why I decided to migrate to Jekyll using this Yeoman generator.

The choice for Jekyll was by far an easy one. I was searching for a proper successor for the site's framework since mid 2012. I picked Drupal over Wordpress when I developed the new site 3,5 years ago because Wordpress allows a lot less tinkering than Drupal. At least in Drupal it was possible, with some hacking, to produce HTML5 pages. However, I feel that Drupal still adds a lot of dead weight and the performance of the site could definitely be a lot better.

Of course I also considered jumping on the SPA-train. Angular and Knockout are unavoidable, but I decided it would be more appropriate for webapps or sites with more interactivity.

I just want to host this blog the fastest way possible, so I explored the other end of the spectrum: static sites. Static sites have changed a lot since the nineties. Using NodeJS the static site is generated and with GruntJS and its plugins it's possible to include concatenation and compression of the JS and CSS resources and even the HTML.

I've considered a NodeJS based web server, but my hosting company doesn't support it. But with Jekyll I can still use it to generate a static site.

But still, the largest change will be the way I will work on the site. I’m going towards a more sprint (as in Scrum) based development method, where each iteration will improve the design a bit more. I will start with a very basic theme and “grow as we go”.

That is also the reason that the old site will still be available here.

I'm not setting deadlines for myself, but the first upcoming milestones will probably include a new contact form, migrating the old posts and a mobile friendly redesign.