Welcome, my friend. If you’re reading this now, it means you’ve found my blog, and hopefully this is the perpetual last one I’ll have. I expect designs to change over time but this content should be around forever. Getting this stood up has been long overdue, but it is finally here, and boy am I ready to share some cool stuff with all of you.
But to level set: No, this site will not win any awards or blow your mind or change your outlook on life. It’s a simple developer blog. You’ve seen these before. Moving along…
Let’s figure out how we got here and the rationale for how I decided to make and host this thing (so that I can remember it all years from now).
I first made my own personal static website back in college in the pre-responsive web design days, back when I was looking for a my first full-time job. It had a couple basic pages and that was it. That site got very embarrassing after a while. I finally decided to take it down and just forward my domain to an about.me page while I worked on getting a new blog-based site up.
I deliberated over many options, from fully custom developed and hosted on Azure (perhaps backed by something like Orchard CMS), to paid services like Ghost, but finally landed with what you see before you now.
At the time of this initial writing, this site is definitely in a ‘first pass’ mode and I fully expect aspects of it, especially the design, to change over time, but I wanted to get started and establish a presence so I can write content about some of the things I see day to day in the software development and DevOps spheres.
Yes, I did the typical developer thing and wen with a Jekyll-generated site hosted on GitHub pages. This required me to roll up my sleeves and get a Linux VM up at home (chose Ubuntu so I could VNC to the nice Unity desktop for serving Jekyll in a browser), so I could use the Ruby-based Jekyll tools through the terminal. You can get Jekyll working on Windows but I’m a big believer in using the tools where they’re meant to be used – Linux just works better in this case. Hopefully someday Bash on Ubuntu on Windows gets fully fleshed out and I won’t need a VM anymore!
(Update 6/13/2017: Jekyll works on Windows Subsystem for Linux now! These bash lines will get you going.)
Jekyll isn’t the only static site generator out there, I was also deliberating about using a generator called Pretzel, which is a little more friendly to Windows-native folks and has some items that are familiar to those who write .NET. But ultimately Jekyll seemed to be the most widely used solution in this space, and in the interest of sticking with something that is widely known, and so I could probably find answers about in the event I hit a snag, I decided to go with Jekyll.
Hand in hand with Jekyll is GitHub Pages. This made a lot of sense as a choice, especially because I spend a lot of my time on GitHub, and using Git. And not only that, the hosting is free, and you can also set up your own custom domain name in front of it, even with SSL/TLS.
But GitHub doesn’t support custom domains with SSL/TLS out-of-the-box, which brings me to…
I was hoping to leverage CloudFlare when I was looking at the Ghost solution, but it turns out it also works in conjunction with GitHub pages by fronting it with its own CDN. By using an SSL cert from CloudFlare, I’m able to have an end to end hosting solution for this blog with custom domain name and TLS, without needing to break the bank. (I would have loved to have taken the time to figure out a Let’s Encrypt certificate at this point, but I’ll save that for a rainy day.)
Oh and I’m using Disqus for comments. Because why not.
This site’s theme is a slightly tweaked version of Jekyll Clean Dark by Peter Makhov. It will probably change over time, but one of the great things about this general Jekyll toolset is the ability to get up and running quickly, and this certainly has been a much quicker experience than when I’ve worked on my own sites in the past.
Everything you see here is open source and available in a public GitHub repository named ryanspletzer.github.io. I maintain a fork of the fundamental changes I’ve made to Jekyll Clean Dark theme over at this repository as well.