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A Jekyll playground site

Frequently asked questions (unpublished)

Author: Alex Vie
Title: Site FAQ
Language: en-US
Created: 14:05 on Saturday, 16. September 2017
Modified: 14:05 on Saturday, 16. September 2017
Keywords: faq, site, tech, jekyll

A FAQ. Sort of. Covers some of the technical details.

Tags: help
Page layout: nonav
Last modified:
14:05 on Saturday, 16. September 2017 | by Alex Vie

This is a FAQ concerning the site itself and the software behind it.

What software is behind this site?

The site is created with Jekyll, a so-called static site generator written in Ruby.

So what’s a static site generator?

A piece of software that takes elements and assembles a web site from them. Such Elements could be:

  • Content (= Articles, like this one). Usually but not necessarily written in Markdown.
  • Static assets, like CSS files, fonts, JavaScript, images and more
  • Templates, written in plain HTML. These templates, together with CSS style sheets, determine the look and feel of the site, the layout, the visual appearance, the navigation.

A site generated statically does not need server-sided processing. The site generator builds static html pages and the web server delivers them. It’s very simple, secure and efficient, because no processing and no database is needed on the sever.

The main disadvantage is that no dynamic content is possible. No user accounts, no server-sided search and more. Some dynamic content can be implemented by using JavaScript but this will then depend on the visitor’s browser setup. One example is the search function on this site. It needs JavaScript to build a pre-generated search index.

But what’s the point, why not just WordPress?

Because I dislike WordPress and it is overkill for such a simple site. Remember, the web started as a static thing, using a markup language with only 18 tags. Of course, technologies have evolved constantly, so we do have a bit more flexibility now. HTML5, CSS and JavaScript are very powerful on their own grounds, even for static content.

The point is that it’s good enough for the job and hosting static content is cheap, easy and relatively free of major security problems. No need to worry about overloaded servers, security nightmares and other problems. Visitors will mostly enjoy excellent performance and responsiveness from static web sites.

What about CSS, frameworks, anything?

Nope, the CSS is a modified version of the jekyll-architect theme. The gallery functionality is provided by fancybox. The site uses parts of Font Awesome (for the social icons in the share bar), jQuery, and the jQuery Timeago plugin for relative time stamps. The search feature is implemented with lunr.js.

What fonts are used?

  • Roboto Condensed for headlines in the main content area and sidebar areas. As the name implies, it’s a condensed version of the popular Roboto font, ideal for longer headlines.

  • Lato for most parts except article text. It’s a modern sans serif font that provides good readability at small to medium sizes.

  • The Iosevka family of monospaced fonts is used to display code examples.

The article font is either one of the Garamond family or Merriweather Serif and all fonts are implemented as web fonts, so the site should look the same on all platforms.

Is JavaScript needed?

Technically, no, it is not required, but it is used in quite a few areas to enhance things. The site itself consists of static HTML pages and those will perfectly load and display without scripts running. Some styling is enhanced with JavaScript and two basic features depend on JavaScript:

  • The comment system
  • The site search

Neither will work without JavaScript. Also zooming embedded images and Videos will not work without JavaScript, but images should display properly. Some styling effects like colorized header elements also need JavaScript, but the site should remain readable without such effects.

What Browsers are supported?

Any modern browser not older than 2-3 years (as of 2020) should work.