Andi Smith

New Year, New Site, New Me?

You may (or may not) have noticed that I've put a new redesigned AndiSmith.com live in the last few days.

It went live on Sunday, but some DNS 'challenges' meant that it appeared live everywhere except for at my house. I didn't want to risk announcing the site was live until I was sure the DNS had propagated, so here we go.

The new site is not perfect, far from it. I'll be modifying it and adding to it as the weeks go by. The truth is, the site had been in one redesign or another since March 2013. I stopped blogging in anticipation of the new site, but I kept redesigning so the blog posts never came.

I have to admit I was spurred on by Ashley Nolan who has also relaunched his blog in the last couple of weeks. Ashley wrote a post on 'Sweating the detail' that really resonated with the predicament with my own blog. It also reminded me of two of the key philosophies I learned at Facebook last year: 'Done is Better Than Perfect' and 'Ship It, Ship It, Ship It'.

Done is better than perfect

Behind the scenes, there's been some changes.

I've moved the site from Wordpress to a static site. Each post is now written in Markdown, but I'm not using Jekyll. Instead the site is built with Assemble - a grunt task for generating static sites, which means I've eliminated the Ruby dependency (just the Sass Ruby dependency to go).

I won't lie, getting a static site running in Assemble with the level of complexity of listing posts, pagination, RSS and categories has been an absolute nightmare. But an interesting challenge. More often than not it was trial and error to see what worked as Assemble would give little to no clue what was wrong. That being said, I'm glad I did it and I'm going to write some tutorials on how I did in the coming months.

I've also moved from hosting the site myself to hosting on Github Pages. My plan is to move all my stuff to Github so I no longer need my hosting provider but there's some work to be done with my other sites. At the moment, the repository for this site is on Github but private. Once I've tidied the code base I will be making it open source and you too can be horrified at my Assemble hacks.

Now 2014 is in full swing I've had a chance to reflect on what I'd like to do and where I'd like to go this year. I don't want to stay standing still - I want to evolve and be involved in more and more interesting projects, I want to feel like what I'm doing counts.

I pleased to say I've got a few things up my sleeve in the coming months already. I'm writing another article for NET Magazine, I'll be speaking at jQuery UK in May and TechInsight in March, and I'm going to be running my first workshop in February.

I'd also really like to make another game this year, completely based in the browser, so I'm hoping to do that too (probably in a fixed amount of time like a weekend).

Finally (for now) I'm going to be starting a new series of blog posts with a particular focus on web development which I hope to start in the next few weeks.