Ryan Irelan

is a publisher, author, developer, husband, and father. At 6'5" he can't dunk a basketball but he sure wishes he could.

What I do: Happy Cog & Mijingo

Navel Gazing

Back in March I relaunched this website with a new, very minimal design and running on a new content management system. It didn’t seem necessary to announce anything since it’s just, you know, a blog. My blog.

What started on Blogger and FTP’d to my university web account in 2001 while I was a graduate student at a fine university, has moved to several different platforms over the course of its nearly 10 year life online. At one point it was on Movable Type (who wasn’t?), WordPress, ExpressionEngine and now it’s just a bunch of static files sitting on a hard drive that you can see. Hello.

This Spring I moved the site to Jekyll, which isn’t really a CMS at all. It’s a Ruby tool that generates a static website from a series of text files for entries and layout files. Every time I write a new entry (like this one) the site is completely regenerated. Movable Type did this, too, but Jekyll doesn’t have a GUI, isn’t a web application (you run it completely on your local machine), is free and surely won’t be sold to some weird advertising company. Also, Jekyll generates my site from Markdown files, which are just text files and will never fall victim to obsolete software. Sounds like a winner to me.

To help me write quicker, I use TextExpander loaded up with some snippets I made for my most commonly used Markdown. There are also snippets for creating the entry header (it contains the layout type, title and date) and the entry file name. If you don’t use TextExpander, give it a try.

A quick note about the design. It’s very basic, as you can see. The web font (I’m currently using Proxima Nova) is delivered using TypeKit and the HTML5 and CSS are mine. Don’t laugh, okay? I followed the advice of Ethan’s book and made this site responsive. Go ahead and try it out. Looks nice on your phone or iPad, too.

For basketball season I included a “Game Day Mode.” You can toggle this on and off in the footer. Right now it’s just manual but perhaps I need a way to automatically turn it on for game days this coming Winter.

Oh, I almost forgot. Why did I move away from ExpressionEngine? Well, technically I am still running ExpressionEngine. The original site (before moving to Jekyll) was not moved over at all. I wanted to start fresh. But I did want to preserve my old blog, so I moved it all to archive.ryanirelan.com. All of the inbound links are redirected so I’m not party to breaking the internet. I switched from ExpressionEngine to Jekyll because I wanted to start keeping my writing in a format that I could take anywhere.

Want to share your thoughts? @Reply to me on Twitter.

There’s more to read in the archive.