About This Blog
I spend a significant amount of time reading technical information on the internet, and I’ve often felt that I should contribute something back to the community. I created this blog with the hope that it will motivate me to share some of my knowledge, and maybe something I write will eventually help someone else. For this first post I thought I would share how I created this site while it was still fresh in my mind.
When I set out to create this site I researched what the most popular approaches for creating a blog were. As a developer and regular user of Git, I was naturally intrigued by the idea of hosting a blog directly on GitHub. For those who are unaware, GitHub Pages allows you to create one user or organization site, and unlimited project sites.
Creating a user or organization site is as simple as creating a repository named username.github.io. You then clone the repository, create your content, commit, & push. At this point you will have a live site at http://username.github.io. One of the neat features of GitHub pages is that it supports Jekyll, a static website generator. You can read more about Jekyll here.
While doing research I came across Jekyll-Bootstrap, a framework for creating Jekyll based blogs, backed by Twitter Bootstrap. Since I didn’t know anything about Jekyll, and already had some minor experience with Bootstrap, this seemed like a good fit.
At the time of writing this, the main Jekyll-Bootstrap repository was based off Bootstrap 2, and didn’t seem to have much current development taking place, so I ended up using this fork which upgraded the original Jekyll-Boostrap to Bootstrap 3 (thanks to dbtek for maintaining this repo). I followed the exact steps outlined in the README of this repository to get up and running.
The default theme that comes with Jekyll-Bootstrap-3 is not totally complete, and I was interested in customizing it a bit. After looking at example Bootstrap blog templates, I decided to use the template provided in this article - “How to create an awesome blog template using Bootstrap 3”. This is a great starting point for creating a layout that will work well across desktop and mobile browsers.
Customizing the theme basically amounts to editing the files under _includes/themes/bootstrap. The default.html file is the overall layout of the site, post.html is the template for posts, and page.html is the template for pages. I supposed I could have created my own theme, but since I don’t plan to ever change the themes, it seemed easier to use the existing one as a starting point and the modify it.
I’ve recently started using IntelliJ IDEA for Java development so I decided to give it a try as an HTML and Markdown editor. I created a static website project and pointed it at the directory where my repository was cloned. The first time I opened a Markdown file it prompted me to automatically install a Markdown plugin which I did. So far IntelliJ has worked well and I really don’t have any complaints.
I also wanted to mention prose.io which is a very cool web-based editor for GitHub pages, with support for Jekyll and Markdown. I played around with prose in the beginning, but since I was initially doing heavy editing of the theme/layout, I preferred working locally running jekyll server –watch to constantly preview my changes before pushing them. I may consider using prose again just for authoring posts since I liked the idea of being able to work from any device with a browser and internet connection.
In the end I was able to create a basic blog with minimal front-end development skills, and almost no knowledge of Jekyll. Hopefully the existence of this blog will motivate me to write more posts in the future.
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