By Ian | 21 September, 2017
Time for an overhaul
After 3 years I have decided it is time to do a makeover of my site. The site had the function as a repository for texts and had a minimal template with no pics to lighten it up - i.e. it was pretty ugly. I have also decided to bring my thoughts about various projects into the open and I needed to extend IanLive with new functions.
My old site was the continued target of hackers and it needed a system update. It was built using Drupal, which is my favourite website platform for content management. I use the site basically to serve static pages - I turned off commenting years ago due to the daily maintenance of stopping spammers, and the misuse of the site for other uses, for no real comments. I had the option of staying with version 7 (D7) and extending it, migrating it to version 8 (D8) or using something different such as Hugo, a static site generator. If I stayed with D7 I would have to add extra functionality, extra modules and all that is involved. Better would be to go for D8, however for both versions, I would have to keep updating the sites regularly. The nice thing about a static site, is that you don’t have to do function updates. I have just built boxxd.org with Hugo so I had some experience with templating, structure, etc.
In the end I decided to do the makeover with Hugo and Boxxd components, hoping that the time I need to invest in building IanLive can be reused for Boxxd components, as well as saving later system maintenance time.
I am a Drupal fan and will still use Drupal in other projects.
The new site should have the old sections such as poems, blog, as well as new sections for concepts, where they can be presented in text and slideshow form, a call for help and later diverse other sections.
What was done
Looking from a work breakdown viewpoint, I spent time on thinking about the file / data / template / taxonomy structure (I have 13 taxonomies), importing the 160 pages from Drupal into text files, and at the same time fleshing out the frontmatter with extra functions and help texts, putting in switches for config functions in config.toml, adding extra front-page blocks, finding and doing over images, configuring the blog with directory year listings (watch out - that can be painful), getting to grips with the template and extending it, switchable presentation function for the concepts, putting form to the concepts.
The developer experience was and is great - Hugo is fast. The site has 160+ pages, 430 other pages and it would rebuild on the fly when I did a change. Where I floundered was on building the blog structure as I use breadcrumbs around the site and I wanted to keep my blogs bundled in year directories. I expected that templating could be done in sub-sections, but it is not built in. Ups, so I had to use some tricks to do it. But the time I spent here was small in comparison to the time I have spent in the past searching for bugs in modules and patching them so that they can run.
Having the right template can save a lot of development time. The template comes from Bootstrapious and a lot of time has been spent from DevCows in configuring it for Hugo. A thanks to them - it made my job easier. The template has nice features, looks good, but it is heavy, and parts need an overhaul. It will probably go when the site gets AMP’lified, but the work DevCows has done can probably be used for AMP.
The site used to be a repository for basically my poems. I had an artistic binge a couple of years ago and I deemed it fit to put the stuff online. Over the last 3 years I have hardly added any new content. I have now added a section for concepts. For the purpose of the makeover, I have just added a couple of outlines: It is still in its infancy and has no real meat.
User configuration and experience
My blog uses extensively taxonomy behind the scenes so that I can easily extend it when necessary. One of the problems of using plain text is that it is easy to type in the wrong taxonomy term. For another project I am thinking of using Drupal as the backend for doing the editing/workflow things (as well other stuff) and using Hugo with AMP to load the content networks.
I am pleased with the new platform, with its looks, with the created assets which can be used in Boxxd. It will be interesting to see if I use it a bit more in the next 3 years :-)