I decided to halt on the 3Ts development of WordPress themes and decided to work on overhauling my very simple-looking web dev portfolio first. Learning how to build WP themes using Twig and Timber (and TailwindCSS) is just something I’d like to add as an extra skill for my resume, 1 so it can wait. I have an unlimited access to the WP Theming with Twig and Timber in the first place anyway, so I can get back to it at another time. Right now, I want to have another attempt at learning how to build sites using SSGs2
My Past Journeys to Static Site Generators
Sometime in the mid-2010s (around 2015 or 2016 I think?), I was trying to get back to my early days of web designing/development by getting back into the anime site shrines community once more. Because of so many articles and books and other things that I’ve read for many years, finding better solutions to build better, cleaner sites, I started reading about the next new thing for websites and CMS systems: Static Site Generators.
Static site generators (SSGs) are a fast and lightweight alternative to heavy CMS systems like WordPress. I discovered SSGs around the same time as I was learning how to use Git and GitHub and building simple non-dynamic websites with GitHub Pages. Jekyll was the very first SSG software that I’ve come across and have been wanting to use it. But it took me about a year later that I finally gotten around to starting how to learn to build websites powered by Jekyll.
Unfortunately, Jekyll would require a lot of things installed in my system just to install it. The software was built using Ruby, and I have attempted to learn Ruby before.3 Not only that, I also needed Git installed (which I already did) and then install more gems before installing Jekyll. I actually tried attempting to learning it as of this writing. However, I’ve run into so many problems just getting Jekyll to work on my system, and it kept giving me errors when I try to view my newly-installed Jekyll site. I’m still working on getting it fixed by being brave and ask the folks at the Jekyll Help forum.
Sometime later, I discovered the second SSG I came across after Jekyll: Hugo
When I first opened this blog,4 I actually tried to rebuild my old Sakura & Syaoran Shrine5 using two things: MaterializeCSS and Hugo. I was able to build the main layout using MaterializeCSS, but I never had the time to start learning Hugo, and I abandoned it.
I no longer have the hard files anymore because it’s been so many years, however, I did create a repo of all those files, so at least I’d be able to download them from there and work on it again (maybe), once I finally got the grasp of learning how to build sites using Hugo.6
Why Hugo… again?
I want to run my portfolio completely lightweight and without the bloat, so I’m going back to SSG again. I decided to choose Hugo again, though I’m also looking into Sculpin (PHP-based), Pelican (Python-based) and even Gatsby (JS/React-based). There’s also an option of building a headless website using both WordPress and Gatsby, but that just sounds way too complicated. Maybe the latter may be a better option, but we’ll see in the future.
I did find a site that lists the Top SSGs here and it looks like Hugo is one of the highest being used there. It does have one of the easiest installation/setup procedures – you don’t even need to install Go (the language Hugo was developed from) or even have some knowledge of Go for you to create a Hugo site. Plus, (from what I read) compared to Jekyll, it’s blazingly fast and lightweight.
In addition, I’ve also gotten used to writing my blogs and articles using Markdown. When I was writing my (fan)fics years before, I was using a novel-writing tool with Markdown. I used Scrivener to write all my old fanfics years ago on my Windows laptop, then when I started getting active on my MacPro, I re-installed Scrivener. I kinda ditched Scrivener sometime later for Place to Write7 and lately, iA Writer.8 I now use iA Writer so that I’ll be able to sync my files (via Dropbox) to my Android-powered phone. When I get bored at work or during break, that’s when I retrieve my files and continue writing with whatever I’ve been writing.
As of late, even though Gutenberg has done a lot of wonders for this new generation of WP, I’ve been using a lot of Markdown lately and not even bother with the WYSIWYG formats like the Classic TinyMCE or even Gutenberg. The only time I use the block is on the first paragraph so that I can have that shiny Drop Cap on the first letter.
It looks like things are going well with my Hugo self-training. It’s almost there. Maybe.
Some Extra Notes...
- Plus, I also want to build custom themes the “easier” way, so to speak? And share (sell?) them for other WP users too!
- Static site generators.
- But I failed and just fell out of the course. I may try to learn it again, but not right now.
- Known as The NINPOJineous back then…
- The main characters for the classic anime series, Card Captor Sakura.
- or some other SSG. I’m about to give up Jekyll.
- iOS app only
- Available for both macOS, Windows, iOS, Android