My Blogging Engine

Jekyll, written in italics. To its right a tilted test-tube partially full of red liquid.
Jekyll - “Transform your plain text into static websites and blogs.”

This blog post builds on my Keeping the RSS Fires Burning post and Howto Markdown Blog.

I wanted to build a bit more on my game blogging. What fuels this blog and the framework I use to build it out.

Fuel

My face to face gaming feeds this blog. The actual play as well conversations around the game session itself. I reflect on the highlights (and lowlights), looking for the magic.

I prioritize reading. I typically get about 40 books in per year; Ranging across genres, fiction and non-fiction alike. I also read a lot of game sourcebooks.

I follow numerous blogsDo yourself a favor, and go checkout Save vs. Total Party Kill’s OSR OPML. There you will find instructions for subscribing to a plethora of blogs. And also visit Campaign Wiki’s Old School RPG Planet and Indie RPG Planet). From these blogs, I read the more deliberate conversations. The majority of my feed is gaming blogs, but I also subscribe to a plethora of other blogs.

Over the past month, I switched from using Feedly.com to using Inoreader.com. I use Inoreader to star, save posts to Google Drive, categorize, and subscribe to blogsThe migration was simple. I exported my OPML file from Feedly and imported it into Inoreader. Once the OSR OPML file showed up, I subscribed to that. I noticed some blogs showing up twice. I wrote a script to de-duplicate what was in my original OPML and what was in the OSR OPML; Every so often I re-run that script..

I find less fuel on Social Media that sparks a response—Aside from clicking on a blog post and adding it to InoreaderMore on that in In Response to “I’m Bowing Out” - Hack & Slash.

A Tangent that Loops Back

I started blogging in 2010 as part of my day job; I used a campus provided Wordpress instance. In 2011 I started my game blog leveraging Wordpress.com. I had thought about Blogger, spending a bit of time in an aborted migration, but opted to remain on WordpressI believe I was looking at tighter integration with the fledgling Google+.

I switched roles on campus, and moved my professional blogging to ndlib.github.io: A site powered by Jekyll. We sought to build-up a team blog. During this time, I actively engaged in Github code contributions. Github leverages Markdown for its rich text comments. I find Markdown more legible than HTML. I will often write Markdown in Atom.io—my text editor of choice. I use the markdown-preview-plus plugin to preview the Markdown as HTML.

I prefer Markdown over HTML or WYSYWIG editors. I spend time thinking about the content and not poking around formatting the contentFocus on one task. While writing avoid editing and formatting. Focus on getting the words out. Then go back and revisit.

Framework

On September 9th, I started once again migrating from WordpressIn 2013, I had another failed attempt at migrating off of Wordpress. If memory served, I wanted the simplicity of Github Pages, but needed redirects, which were not available in Github pages at the time. Also in the back of my head I wanted HTTPS for my custom domain hosted by Github Pages. This was not available until May 1, 2018. I had stumbled upon the Tufte Jekyll theme. One that purported to be a “Minimal Jekyll blog styled to resemble the look and layout of Edward Tufte’s books.” I became enamored with the layout of the demo pageI like side notes and margin notes. Foot notes are nice as well. I wanted something that would ease the management of including these asides. My semantic preference would be to use the aside HTML5 element, but that has challenges and issues further detailed in tufte-css.

I dove into the migration, starting first with Jekyll Import. I performed a full clean-up; I wanted to embrace the new theme. I also wanted to preserve links from other pages. This involved a mix of scripts, manual changes, and patienceI dusted off my Imagemagick, Nokogiri, Psych/Yaml, and Rake skills. I do hope to publish the bones of how this site gets built, but for now, you’ll have to put on your imagination hat..

I have scripts that:

  • Create proper aspect ratio derivative images for side, main, and full images.
  • Create an AMP compliant version all pages, while maintaining a the foundational fast non-JS dependent site.
  • Extract image metadata to have proper aspect ratio for the AMP version of the site.
  • Beautifies the HTML generated from Jekyll by normalizing indents and spacing.
  • Takes a tag and adds new tags to posts that already have the tag.

In other words, once I cutover from Wordpress to my new site, I’ll have full control over my blog’s data. And I love it.

Until I switch overOk. I switched over. You can find my old site at takeonrules.wordpress.com, I write my post first for takeonrules.github.io, then do some HTML antics and copy it into my Wordpress site.