Sampling static site generators

I’m coming clean: I’ve been writing on other blogs. It’s not that I don’t love this WordPress site I built as a college freshman with a homepage carousel and fixed-width containers, but some side projects presented opportunities to try generating websites with Jekyll and Yeoman.

I was inspired to start a datablog about about the legendary bearded pitcher Brian Wilson after reading Analyzing Baseball Data with R and wanted a website framework that would allow me to publish easily but also facilitate sharing the R code I used in my analysis.
Jekyll and GitHub fit my situation because I could deploy scripts and blogs to the same place. I suppose I could have used iPython notebooks or Jeremy Singer-Vine’s Reporter to embed my code more seamlessly in posts, but for now I link to the repo.
Originally I thought Jekyll’s use of markdown would block all the Javascript I planned to do with this project, but I’ve ended up embracing static charts and gifs, which are simple to embed in markdown.
I wanted to use the yeoman Backbone generator to get running with a single-page site that used my work examples as data models but into command-line setup struggles. After 15 frustrating minutes, I found my Node needed an update.
My first go with Yeoman wasn’t as snappy as I hoped, and my time allotment broke down like this:
  • updating node: 1 hour
  • fighting backbone models: 1/2 hour
  • writing my resume as json: 2 hours
  • design: 1/2 hour
  • deployment: 1/2 hour
Using Backbone to treat my resume as models meant I had to write my resume and work samples as json. I was willing to put up with the hassle because for some reason I like entering structured data by hand, but this is why lots of people have worked on ways to convert spreadsheets or google docs to structured data and I could have used those tools.
Deploying my yeoman-generated portfolio site was bittersweet as it was only once I put it on the interwebs that I realized the generator had included some libraries that broke Backbone on Internet Explorer. The generated site came with modernizr and had fallbacks to help IE users, but I would have rather handled IE myself. I could pick through the yeoman generator, find what breaks my site on IE and remove it, but I’m lazy.
Give me the grid
You gotta have a responsive grid. Yeoman generators come with one, Sass tools like Bourbon Neat can give you one. However in recent collaborations with my boy Frank Bi, we’ve used good ol’ Bootstrap since we both understand CSS and want avoid grunt/compiling Sass.