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A New Web Order

Out of many messes, one big mess

published May 6th, 2020

canoe at morrow mountain
At Morrow Mountain State Park
Check out my Gallery

For several years I've allowed my website to stagnate. In early January I started to make changes. I moved my site to AWS LightSail. I describe that in this post.

LightSail is wonderful, fast, inexpensive, but it's not free. I've been reading that all the cool kids were switching to static websites. There are several reasons, one reason is free hosting. Another reason is that static sites are fast. Finally and importantly, new tools have made multiple page static sites easier to manage than in the past.

When sites have more than a few pages they become difficult to manage. If a change needs to be made to every page, making those changes becomes tedious and time consuming.

I learned to use PHP include statements. By creating each page with PHP include statements, files with pieces of HTML can be inserted into every page. PHP enables the alteration of one file to be duplicated in many files.

There is a downside to the use of PHP include statements. Unless the page is cached, the server must take the time to run PHP include statements each time a page is requested by a browser. Today developers are using JavaScript tools to build each page before uploading to a live server. Static sites sit on the server fully built and ready to be served.

Gulp is the JavaScript tool that I'm learning to use. Gulp plugins allow me to insert HTML as I did with PHP include statements. It also builds a finished CSS file from SCSS partial files. I hope to streamline the process as I learn from experience. With Gulp I can build a multi-page static site and manage it as well as with PHP.

I'm also using GitHub. I've experimented with Git and GitHub in the past. Git is version control software. I've always thought good backups where all I needed. I've learned that GitHub is an excellent replacement for FTP programs. I can change multiple files on my local computer and GitHub will track those changes until I'm ready to upload them to my server.

GitHub is a free host for static sites. Free is good, and it means I can archive sites with GitHub pages. They may remain after I am remains. I will not receive a bill in the afterlife.

This site is hosted on Netlify and deploys from a private GitHub repository. Netlify has a free plan for static sites.

Those are behind the scene changes. A visitor will be unaware of them. If someone told you "blog" was an onomatopoeia, what would the word describe? I'm guessing something disgusting. For now I'm calling my post, commentaries. It sounds nicer. There a few older post that will be broken by the changes in this home page. I intend to work on that next.

I have tried to improve my image gallery. It now takes fewer clicks to crank up a slideshow with Lightbox. In the past I've used thumbnails. I liked the look, but they seemed without any function. The thumbnails are gone. I have many photos I could add to my gallery. I have so many choices, no direction, and it all takes time.

signature Phil W. Lowder