MappingVermont bio photo



Moving to Github Pages

Happy New Year, all! What a perfect time for the traditional no-new-content-but-yes-there’s-a-big-architectural-change blog post!

This is no one’s favorite genre, but I have to recount (at least for my future self) the way I ran this blog for years. It was nuts.

I had no idea how to really run a blog / server / jekyll setup, but I knew I wanted my own machine on AWS so I could understand “devops”. So I rented a tiny ubuntu box, and then really went to town. I used jekyll to build my static site, then nginx to serve it. I built an API and even a user-based web application.

I had no clue how to set any of this up . . . and somehow, likely as a result of my brute force google searches, things worked. Kind of. To update my blog I’d have to build my jekyll site on my machine, then scp it to my remote server using my SSH credentials.

Given the, ahem, time between posts around here it usually took me about an hour to even find the credentials / reconstruct this build system, and that only increased if I broke something.

This is at odds with how I want to blog. I want to be able to put together some ideas in markdown, push them to Github, and then see the results live on the web. Hanging out with Bill Morris the other day I was amazed to see him literally do just that. We figured out how to use window functions in ogr2ogr SQL statements and I was about to call it a day. Then Bill sent me a link to his brand new blog post covering what we’d discovered 20 minutes earlier.

Incredible! Reducing the friction between writing and publishing . . . what a concept! He shared his guide to deploying a Github Pages site to a custom domain and I took it from there. Very happy to be previewing this locally in jekyll, commiting to GH, and then refreshing my site to watch it go live. Thanks Bill!