After putting it off for a few months, and a weekend of trying to make the perfect simple stylesheet, I finally got around to re-doing my website. It's now simpler, easier to read and actually has a blog.
Initially I was going to write my own static content generator in python using Jinja2, pygments and docutils. I realise that doing this was going to be a giant pain and I didn't quite have the time to actually try to make one. I've heard about Jekyll before and decided to investigate. I was hoping it was written in python but was instead written in ruby, however, in the end, this didn't matter.
I was initially greeted by an interesting layout and became worried that if I went any further I would be here for the rest of the day trying to wrangle the thing into submission.
I started with the basics, I changed a few details in the config, this made some text change and remove some other text so I went about exploring. I knew Jekyll was using Liquid templates and having used Jinja before I knew what I was looking for.
I quickly discovered that
/_layouts stored a set of "base" templates which included a set of templates from
/_includes to bring stuff together. This wasn't too bad.
I then found
/css or more importantly
/css/main.scss. I've never seen an "scss" extension before but at first glance it looked a bit like CSS. At a second glance it looked like a css generator. I didn't really need this, the CSS for this website is in no way complex enough to warrant templating css, so I got to work modifying the existing
_includes, and simply copied in my usual css.
Within about 10 minutes I had a working front page design but I noticed something annoying; the generated HTML had about 10 line breaks in the middle and generally looked like a mess. I realised that most of this space was because of Liquid's tokens leaving space. After moving all the tokens around in a way which meant that minimal breaks were introduced, I was left with something presentable.
But this wasn't the end of the weirdness, the next problem was that for some reason, the indentation on the very first line of an imported template was always correct, but subsequent indentation was broken. (I was hoping that, like many text editors, Liquid might take the indent on the line where a block is being pasted and copy it for every line of the block, but on second thought, this might not be desirable for for example,
<pre>). I had to fix this by indenting all but the first line correctly in every
/_includes template and this managed to cover most of the cases.
In the end, after pasting the syntax highlighting from
/_sass/_syntax-highlighting.scss into my stylesheet and manually "generating" all the required entries. I was left with this very end result you see before you. As a final verdict, I really do think that Jekyll is quite awesome even though I've probably not used it in the most efficient fashion. All things considered, however, this only took about an hour.
Now, bask in the glory of the syntax highlighting: