The Blog

Where I can tell you what I think...

The Making of COREYJA

2.18.17

Corey Alexander

Hey, thanks for checking out my blog! Got it all set up, so decided my first post should be a making of post showing how I put this blog together! If you want to jump right to the source, here is the github: github.com/coreyja/coreyja-blog.

Requirements

There are some things I wanted whatever engine I picked to be able to support.

  • Must support articles written in Markdown
    • I really enjoy writing in Markdown, and that it translates to HTML
  • Syntax Highlighting
    • Markdown supports code blocks and I wanted them to be highlighted correctly
  • Generate a Static Site
    • I’ve run Wordpress blogs in the past, but I didn’t want to maintain a dynamically generated blog like that
  • Written in Ruby, and using the ERB tempting engine
    • Just a personal preference, but I enjoy being able to extend my tools and I’m currently working in Ruby and like the ERB syntax

Middleman Blog

With these requirements I found the middleman (github.com/middleman/middleman) gem! And some extensions to it, including middleman-blog (github.com/middleman/middleman-blog), and middleman-syntax (github.com/middleman/middleman-syntax).

Middleman describes itself as a static site generator, and is exactly what I was looking for. Coming from a Rails background I was right at home in the Middleman environment. Getting started was as easy as running the blog generator, middleman init coreyja-blog --template=blog and editing some ERB files.

Middleman also provides a Rack compatible config.ru file, which made developing using POW a breeze. Simply linked the project to POW, and was able to view the site locally and have changes appear when I reloaded. I didn’t enable live-reload, but there is an extension for that as well.

Design

The design of this site was done by Phillip Inge at phillipthedesigner.com/. We worked together years ago as freelancers and I had him design me this blog when we were working together. I think it has definitely stood the test of time, and still looks great a few years later! I originally used the designs for django based Portfolio site that I made at the time, but I am going to be replacing that with this blog. I made some small tweaks to the designs this time around to make them responsive.

Syntax Highlighting

Syntax Highlighting was one of my requirements for this project. Setting it up with middleman-syntax was fairly simple, but I wanted to take it one step further! I realized that they were using Rogue under the hood, and themes could be defined in Ruby. So I made a Syntax Highlighting theme that fit the design and color scheme of this site. For the most part I based it off if the Monokai theme, but changed the accent colors to better fit my color scheme. I am pretty happy with the results! It’s not something I’d want to use for my daily editor, but I think it looks pretty good on the site.

Hosting

Since Middleman is a static site generator hosting is easier and cheaper! I simply upload the generated files to AWS S3 and configure it for a static site! This is, understandably, much cheaper than some of the Heroku personal projects I also run.

first making-of