02 Oct 2018
Learning Wordpress Then Jekyll
For four years, I saw WordPress from all angles, then in the last of four I started to think that installing it would be easier because from the beginning it still looked complicated. In 2009, I finally found it less complicated to approach. I decided the best way to learn it was to jump into the theme and take it apart piece by piece. I took a finished template that was created with HTML and CSS from an external host and took a WordPress-made theme and meshed them together in a way that I pulled code from the template and matched it to the WordPress theme’s parts. That’s how I went from knowing HTML and CSS to learning PHP. The PHP used in WordPress and later to writing custom functions for WordPress themes and simple plugins for holding functions. And most recently writing custom Google Maps for plotting locations using WordPress Custom Post Types and Custom Fields.
This year, I had reached a plateau where not much WordPress site building was coming in for work and my tinkering mind was on the verge of “boredom” from not learning new things. I had spent half a year looking at and writing blog posts on static site generators, how I discovered their existance and purpose. I kept poking at the new challenges in front of me until I felt comfortable enough to dive in. I decided Jekyll was the best to try out since I had aquantances about me who had already dived in that I could ask for help from them if I needed a floatation device to rescue me but as was the case, I looked at it after accumulating alot of helps through videos and well-written tutorials. With both proverbial feet, I tackled the mystery of it all and forged through until I made it through. Within four days, it finally made 90% sense. The 10% was figuring out the best way to make it work for me as everyone else had already figured out. The 10%, I found the most tutorials for, the 90% I spent a week digging through search terms to find the best tutorials.
I moved from WordPress to Jekyll and recreated the most important parts of this website like this blog, the static pages, the decisions for design on top of an existing template and I have put my portfolio to the side as I had more work in a different field to do. The task of writing in Markdown was completely new to me although I knew of Markdown existance for three years prior, I quickly mastered the documentation. First everything was written then pushed up to a GitHub repository using written commands in Terminal every time. Secondly I learned how to write a bash deploy script to do it for me and lastly Codeship CI (Continuous Integration) was shown to me because I reached a point where I wanted to write these blog posts from multiple computers and not revert to one where my Git was set up with SSH.
WordPress took nine years to comprehend, learn, build themes for it, learn how to harden for security’s sake, learn how to unhack, learn to build plugins. Jekyll took me six months to observe because life was happening, then a month once I thought I was truly interested in seeing what made it function, and four days to dive in and figure most of it out, having my site launched on the fourth day.
In theory, I’m happy with this setup. No more database and security issues tied to that. No more slow loading. Twig and Collections are enough for creating the functions and section pulls that I need and the last thing I’m wrapping my mind around is images and I’m sure that Gulp (runs tasks you write to do functions you need, like resizing thumbs for images) will be next on the list for creating responsive images for mobile screens.