20 Oct 2018 - Thomas Depierre
Finally. After more than two years of talking about it, I have a place to put my rants on. I want to talk about the tech stack behind it and some choices I made. I ended up writing my own blog engine and learn a bit in the process.
I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide
You can find the source-code on this repository on my github. It is a home-grown elixir code-base, using Phoenix. I thought for a long time about using existing tools like Ghost, Jekyll or Wordpress. It would have been far more maintained and there exists a lot of place to host your own. The reason I went home-grown is quite sad : I was never able to use these tools. Jekyll with Github Pages especially, I was never able to understand how to create and write a post using it. The documentation of Jekyll has always been hermetic to me.
Additionally to that, I wanted to play a bit with CSS and the web side of things. For no other reasons that it is not something I have strong skills at. It was both a learning experience, but also the possibility to build a tool that would suit me.
I used a quite simple stack. The whole backend is written in Elixir. The web part use the Phoenix framework. I spend most of my time at work in Elixir and have been advocating the language for years, it was natural to use it. Phoenix is the main framework in the Elixir ecosystem. It is well adapted to this type of site, being highly modular. Blog-posts are written on files with Markdown templating. A TOML file is used as index, and there is no database. I did not saw the need for one, and I am usually a big proponent of minimalism. It was the perfect occasion to live by my words.
Sharp Dressed Man
The part that took me most of the time is the styling. I have a lot of opinions on CSS and how to use it. Recently, I have found that Tailwindcss seems to fit most of the bill. It hit the mix of simplicity, composition and extensibility I want from my CSS. I used this project as a way to test-drive it. So far it has been quite pleasant to use. I still need to clean up some rough corners of my templates, but it has been a breeze to use.
I chose to work with a simple palette of 5 colours.
'light-colour': #FFFFFF; 'main-colour': #1E88E5; 'light-accent': #D55E00; 'dark-accent': #7A546B; 'dark-colour': #191C22;
I wanted a palette with main colours that had some punch, but also a dark theme that would drawn out the noise. Finally, i wanted a palette that could work equally well for all type of colour blindness.
These constraints written down, i worked with two tools. The first is called Colormind.io. It was really useful to find colours that mix well together. It offers colours that are part of palette extracted from pictures. The trick is that it select pictures that already have the rest of your colours. The second tool was the colourblind post and tool from David Nichols. You can set your palette and see how different colour blindness affect it. The link should show the website with my palette loaded,. Which should enable you to see that indeed, the palette fit my requirements.
That said, i am not a fan of the dark accent colour i am using right now, and i may end up revisiting it. But i want to make efforts toward accessibility in my work and this was a step toward it.
And that is it. The site is quite simple for now. I still need to fill some of the sections and i already have a few issues open to remind me on how to extend it. Hope you enjoy and have a good day.