Ramblings about development and woodworking


Technical details for Dust Collected

Posted on in Development by Kyle Heon

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Praesent dictum diam

As I know many of my followers are of the techie sort I figured a follow-up post to my introduction post might be in order to detail some of the more technical aspects of this new site.

For those that don't want the nitty-gritty, here is the 10,000 foot view:

  • Completely static site built using Middleman which is a static site generator
  • Hosted in the cloud via Amazon S3
  • Theme purchased from Theme Garden, courtesy of dbooom
  • Stock imagery from Shutterstock and Big Stock Photo
  • Analytics provided by Google (a no-brainer)

For those that are interested in a bit more on the why, continue reading, if not, thanks for stopping by.

Why static? Why Middleman?

I think a better question is, why not? I was looking for something that would allow me to stand up a site quickly and cheaply. I wanted to be able to run this site with as minimal cost as possible and having a static site allows me to host this site just about anywhere. Without any backend programming languages or database server requirements meant my options were unlimited. Migration of the site to another host will be as simple as copying the site to another location.

Other benefits of going with a static site include:

  • security - it's hard to hack a site that doesn't have any security holes (short of compromising the server itself)
  • performance - with no language parsing overhead page speed is wicked fast

As for Middeleman, I evaluated many but kept coming back to this one. I started with it on a recommendation from a co-worker (thanks Jon). Having previously used Ruby on my previous blogging endeavor I was at least somewhat competent with the language. For me the blogging extension for Middleman was by far the tipping point. I also evaluated Jekyll, nanoc, Statamic (not quite a static) and Octopress.

Why Amazon S3?

Quite honestly I went with S3 because it's insanely cheap and super simple to get configured with Middleman for deployment purpuses using the s3_sync extension for Middleman. Now that I have deployment configured, building and deploying updates to my site is as simple as these two commands:

  • middleman build
  • middleman s3_sync

What is cool with the s3_sync extension is that it only pushes what actually changed, thus saving me tranfer costs (minimal admittedly but still).

What next?

Once the article count grows some I plan on introducing a site search. I also have plans to build out a true home page but couldn't do that for launch as I just didn't have the content to support.

Long-term, well I really don't know. I do know that as a Sitecore MVP I get a personal license that I could use for this site or to explore the product outside of the office. I definitely have some ideas for a cool project that would use Sitecore and is inline with the nature of this static site. That's all I'm going to say – for now.

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Dust Collected was founded in 2014 by Kyle Heon and is a play on a series of words that have meaning in both software engineering and woodworking.