GitHub pages first contact

Blogs and blogging is basically what is all about lately in the web. I’ve found that even certain news media try to convey a sense of proximity with the reader by using a more personal and blog-like approach. Nowadays it is important to have an on-line presence in places like Twitter, YouTube or Linkedin, and if you are a developer it is equally important to be present in GitHub and Stack Overflow for example.

The best way to complement this is of course to have your own personal blog where you may have a more intimate space where to publish more concrete and developed ideas.

I’ve always had my own blog or website where I’ve been dumping this and that (mainly that…) as a form of self-expression and mainly as a way of tracking the things that I’ve been doing over time. Sometimes memory is ephemeral.

Without knowing about the existence of my personal blog a esteemed friend of mine was recently sharing with me that he was starting a new blog Enrique Recarte Blog. He is an accomplished developer and architect now tasting the goodies and baddies of London’s busy life. Our conversation was quite interesting and he introduced me to the unknown-until-then GitHub pages service.

I’ve been often paying for hosting services to host my website, and although it is usually not expensive, it is always overpaid for the use I make of it. Besides it always brings a little bit of over-engineering as I tend to use CMSs (Content Management Systems) like Joomla or more recently WordPress. Although these two products are great and have a big and active community around it, it is like using sledgehammers to crack nuts.

So I really welcomed it when my friend Enrique was explaining to me how to prepare a GitHub pages site using Jekyll, how it is automatically compiled when uploaded, and how to associate an already owned domain name to it through the CNAME file. I should not go into much detail in this post as I’m preparing a more technical post about Jekyll and all the steps I’ve followed to bring my site live, but it has been a really pleasant experience.

There are two things I love about Jekyll and the GitHub pages approach. First, that the source pages follow the MarkDown format that will allow me to port my site to any future technology as it is just plain ASCII with some extra headers for the FrontMatter engine. And second that the final website is just a static website that will work on any webserver of the world. No need for PHP, databases or fancy stuff. Yeah, ok, I know, “how fancy a database is nowadays” you may say. However I prefer it this way. It is fast, easy to serve and I can have a better control of the weight of the site.

In a follow-up post I shall explain how to set up your own Jekyll website with multi-language and a search engine.

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