Back to basics

I’ve finally rebuilt a personal website I’m proud of. I did it by going back to basics.

I’m using Jekyll, a simple, battle-tested static site generator. It feels good to write some plain HTML again. To dive into MDN and learn some new things about <abbr>. I’ve been working professionally at such a high level of abstraction, it’s refreshing to remind myself what the foundational technologies are. It’s getting my hands dirty. In the end, we’re all still just slinging hypertext.

I built my first website in fourth grade, using Dreamweaver. A website of links to other things I liked. There’s something to be said about what we lost from those days. Hypertext pages, links, content. No fussy javascript, tracking scripts, ads, and complex metatags. Just text on a page.

I’ve been around the web long enough to see the majority tools I’ve ever used go extinct. The creative destruction of frameworks and languages continues unabated. Recently, reading about vuejs and react, I can’t help but feel like we’ve been here before, and will be here again. Again and again.

Maybe it’s because I’m getting older. Maybe it’s the realization that a given technology is rarely what makes a project successful (see: service design, value proposition, patience). Maybe it’s because I consider myself a part of the Rails generation, coming of age as a programmer influenced by the elegant conventions, patterns, and opinion’s of DHH’s opus. Whatever it is, I’m happiest with well built tools that have stood the test of time (in internet years), trends be damned.

You know what won’t be going extinct? HTML, CSS, some links and content. The basics.