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Week 2: RMarkdown, Hugo, Jekyll

Posted on Dec 13, 2018 by Chung-hong Chan


In this week I have built a small website for someone in less than a day. As a todo-list, I did basically the followings:

  1. Registered a new Gmail account.
  2. Using the new Gmail account, registered a namecheap account.
  3. Bought a new domain name from namecheap
  4. Registered a Netlify account.
  5. Pointed the namecheap DNS records to netlify
  6. Built a website using the R packge Blogdown
  7. Deployed the website to Netlify

One can only buy a BigMac menu in Germany for 8 Euro. But the website was actually a gift for someone and the whole thing actually costed only 8 Euro in total for buying the domain name from namecheap. The rest of it was either using free service (e.g. Netlify), free software (e.g. blogdown, free theme) or free labor (e.g. from me). 1

I haven’t done this kind of works for so long and I have forgetten many things, e.g. how to set DNS, etc. Luckily, the blogdown book is quite easy to read and have got me up to the speed once again.

Although the task was not so interesting and I don’t think the end product is impressive, I’ve learnt a great deal about the current static site generator(SSG)-scene (if such a scene exists). Blogdown is actually just a wrapper of Hugo, a SSG written in Go. The ‘additional benefit’ from Blogdown is rendering Rmarkdown into Markdown using Pandoc and then Hugo takes the last step.

Hugo was blazing fast in rendering when I built the website. It made me want to dig deeper into the current development in SSG, because the Jekyll (written in Ruby) that I am using is rather slow. For example, rendering this blog takes over a minutes.

The current SSG-scene is headed by three horses: Jekyll (Ruby), Hugo (Go) and Hexo (Node). I have tried to migrate this blog from Jekyll to Hugo using the import tool, but there is a lot of problems with my Wordpress-exported HTML files in my Jekyll’s _posts directory. I can only render this blog with Hugo, when I removed all HTML files (image). But still, the date of all posts are incorrect. I think all these problems can be solved, if I really invest the time to fix them. It begs the question: Do I really need to migrate?

So, it goes back to this wonderful proverb:

Leave well enough alone

Jekyll works well enough for me, at least for now. It ain’t broke, so there is no reason to ‘fix it’. Jekyll is slow, but I like to use it (maybe as the only way to support the language I love) and I have quite used to the workflow.

2 down, 50 to go.

  1. Don’t ask if the person likes the website or not. Although I could feel it, I don’t want to know the actual answer. 

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