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My adventures in computer programming

Learning Hugo

I needed to rebuild my business site for Bike Spoke Studios. In the past I had been using a home-made static site written entirely in HTML, CSS and Javascript. It was a bit clunky, and looked like it was from the 1990’s. I liked the GIF I used as a logo (a model of an old steam engine), but other than that, I knew it needed updating. Most of all I wanted something that would look good on mobile.

Steam Engine

After that I had switched to Wordpress, which I have a lot of experience with. The new Wordpress Site Builder is a great visual design and layout creation tool that is fairly new to Wordpress. I leveraged it, but still found the website looked very ‘Wordpress-y’. Something needed fixing.

Then, thanks to a Twitter post by @nixCraft, I learned about Static Site Generators! These are revolutionizing the way people create sites. The great advantage they have over Content Management Systems (like Wordpress, Drupal, Joomla, Nationbuilder, etc.) is that it is not dynamic. In a CMS, every time a user loads a page, the database is queried, the server executes PHP or other functions (Liquid, for example) and then renders a totally new, unique page for the user. With a static site generator, all the page contents exist as an HTML document (and associated assets) prior to a user asking for them. It’s a return to the days before the Dynamic CMS.

Advantages

  • Super fast
  • For a web developer, it’s convenient to write posts in a text editor
  • Posts are written in the Markdown language
  • There is no slow-loading back-end interface

However, the lack of a back-end interface is a significant shortcoming of Static Site Generators: they are not nearly as user friendly for a client to manage their site. Clients want things to be as easy to use as possible. A SSG is easy for me to set up and maintain, but not for your average person.

So I dug in, and read all about Hugo, Jekyll, Roots, and Middleman. I decided to go with Hugo because it was listed in Smashing Magazine as 5 times faster than competing static site generators. In addition, it was listed as being the quickest and easiest to get going from scratch.

A few hours of work later, I present to you my new Hugo-created website which you are using right now. I hope you like it! Drop me a line to send me your feedback.


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