I never intended creating a blog to be a development project unto itself. I want to be industrious and learn new skills, but for me writing is just about writing. My requirements were very simple:

  • I want to easily insert syntax-highlighted code samples.
  • I don’t want to spend more than five minutes learning the given details of any CMS.

I worked through every single CMS I could install through my cheap hosting provider. (I need to know that I’m going to write more than two posts before I spend more on serious hosting.) If something didn’t work right away I went to the next one. Finally I landed on Joomla. It still took more than five minutes to get something rudimentary set up, and longer to get it to show the right page titles and highlight my C# code. It worked, but both the admin and the actual site were painfully slow.

So I started searching for a better solution. I’m a .NET developer, so I’ve spent way too much time in Microsoft-centric development environments. But it turns out that to get the simple platform I want, I’m using an entirely new set of tools. Even if that takes a little work I’d rather gain that experience then spend more time playing with a CMS that far overshoots my needs.

To set this up I

  • installed Ruby on my Surface Pro 3
  • installed Jekyll, a static site generator - this is awesome!
  • started writing content in Markdown using Brackets

What’s astounding to me was how easy it was, and that it Just Worked. I don’t know the first thing about Ruby, but it took no time at all to get this up and running. A few details weren’t immediately obvious, but it didn’t take hours of hair-pulling to make it work. (There were a few minutes where I struggled trying to figure out how to open the Jekyll editor before I realized that it isn’t an editor and doesn’t open a window. I didn’t feel too bright, but I did get it working!) I’ve never used Markdown, but it clearly wasn’t meant to be difficult.

Thank you, Julian Thilo, for these instructions. And thank you Adam Pritchard for this handy reference without which I wouldn’t know how to create a list or add a link.

Finally, this is exactly what I wanted! Now that I’m building a site with Ruby and Brackets I’m going to start dressing in black, drinking expensive coffee, and growing some unusual facial hair like a beard without a mustache.