Take Off

A long time ago I had a technical blog using this domain name on the blogger.com platform. But as with many blogging initiatives it died a silent death. The situation is slightly different these days as I have some time to write blogs and articles.

As mentioned in the About section, this website is completely managed using the Hugo static website creation tool. A long time ago I used a GUI on MacOS X called RapidWeaver for my personal website which was quite amazing but like many offline tools had some pros and cons:

  • PROs
    1. WYSIWYG
    2. Easy in use, but still very versatile and powerful
    3. Very professional looking results with the right templates
    4. As the site is static, no dependencies and upgrade worries
  • CONs
    1. Platform dependent
    2. License
    3. Can run a little behind new developments and integrations
    4. Doesn’t really scale very well for larger sites

I was happy with this solution for quite some time, but decided to migrate to the free version of weebly.com, an online editor. It simplified management of the site and offered universal accessibility; it no longer mattered where I was to manage the site and add content. I’m still with Weebly for my personal website.

But for this project I decided to do it slightly different. I was planning to use my Synology Webstation’s feature but to prevent the tedious patching and upgrading cycle of a WordPress installation I wanted the site to be static using some software that was:

  1. free
  2. multi-platform
  3. fast
  4. easy to learn

I ended up choosing between Hugo and Jeckyll and after reading some reviews on the speed of Hugo, I decided to give Hugo a test drive. And while at it, I had to learn Markdown too.

There are some obvious advantages of going static all the way:

  1. Much higher security posture. It’s static pages, what is there to exploit?
  2. Much easier on the operations scale. There is no CMS and database to install, learn, manage and maintain.
  3. Requires less resources and in general is much faster.

It’s does take a bit of getting used to as there is no GUI to help, but its minimalist approach does have some advantages like portability to name one. I do all my development stored on a Microsoft OneDrive which gives me full access regardless of the platform I’m working on, and as the Hugo software exists for any Operating System and is portable, I can do my writing practically anywhere. Well except for an iPad that is, I can prepare content though.

I don’t think this approach is for everyone. Static site generators are clearly a step forward from writing HTML which is how I started with Notepad and HTML 1.0, but it does require some experience on a terminal and there is a bit of a learning curve. But nothing unsurmountable and definitely less steep than a Drupal / Wordpress / Joomla config.

As my bandwidth is limited at home, I also wanted to use this occasion to testdrive a CDN and since I don’t have extensive firewall equipment at home, it would be nice to have some kind of additional protection. I decide to go with Cloudflare for this project and as my pages are static, a CDN should be able to cache most of the content which would result in minimal usage of my outgoing bandwidth.

We’ll see how this evolves further and I’ll come back on my experience with Cloudflares CDN features in a future article.