Welcome to 2015

Mar 20, 2015

Yep. Welcome.

“But Jaanus,” I hear you say. “It is March. The year changed a while ago. What on earth are you talking about?”

Indeed. 2015 is well underway. This site, though, seemed to be stuck in the past, and it’s time for another remake. If you’re reading this in some RSS reader, I do invite you to click through and see the new layout.

Following are a few more thoughts and notes about the motivation and execution of the site update.

Publishing

A bit over a year ago, I switched to Octopress. Octopress is built on top of Jekyll. Octopress 2, the previous/current version, was a big and not particularly pretty hack. Octopress 3, the new upcoming version, promises to be much nicer and cleaner, but it has not been officially released yet.

At the same time, my site is already heavily invested in Jekyll: post format, code highlighting, custom Youtube and image tags… I did not want to spend a whole lot of time migrating to another system, so it was a choice between continuing with Octopress 2, waiting for the unspecified release of Octopress 3, or going to pure Jekyll.

A few months ago, I took a look at this and asked myself, what does Octopress give me that Jekyll already doesn’t do? Do I really need Octopress? There’s a few nice features like deployment and new post generation, but the core functionality—generating posts from source material with some custom tags—is fully covered by Jekyll, which is also far better maintained with a wider community.

Design

As much fun as it is to design your own site from scratch, I knew that I did not have the energy to do this so that I would not be fully satisfied. Fortunately, Jekyll is highly themable and customizable, so there’s still the option for me to do this at some later point when I get some time to hack around. For now, though, a theme would have to do.

I looked around a bit and found Balzac that took me 80% there. I just had to do a few customizations like a nicer source code formatting theme, custom image and Youtube tags with some design borrowed from Octopress, removing gratuitous animations and some spacing adjustments.

Fonts are also part of design. Balzac recommends Calendas Plus, which indeed does look nice, so I bought that. Just look at that italic J in “Jekyll” a few paragraphs above. As for code, I’ve lately been using CamingoCode as my main coding/monospaced font, so all the code examples and monospaced text uses that. Monaco that ships with Mac by default is a great workhorse font, but getting a bit boring as it’s used everywhere, so why not try something different.

URL style

URL-s like /2012/07/13/some-title are ugly. Matt Gemmell says all there is to say about this. So it was time for an update in this department too. You’ll now see clean URL-s on this site, with redirects in place for the old style. I can’t say I care too much about keeping old links working—Google mostly takes care of that—but I do have some gems that bring a lot of traffic from sites like Stackoverflow, such as this one about Android proxying. Would be a shame to break those, but redirects keep things working nicely.