Developing Jekyll Anywhere

Developing Jekyll Anywhere

Lately, I have been on the lookout for new technologies – In fairness, I always am – but a bit more specific tech lately. I get a bit obsessed with finding the perfect solution for things. It’s like I am on a vision quest for bad-ass tools that passionate developers pour thier soul into. With the redesign of this site, it became apparent to me, that i needed to revisit the workflows, tools and methods that I have gotten used to with Wordpress and other PHP projects that I have built up.

As I stated in the original post, after getting fed up with Wordpress, I settled on developing this site on Jekyll based on recommendations on Twitter from some of the folks at Case Inc. So far, I’m digging it. It’s quick, powerful and I enjoy doing all it via a text editor and the terminal. It comes with a drawback though. In order for me to write a post, I have to be near my mac. Jekyll is a Ruby Gem and it requires me to compile each post. From all of the feedback that I have seen, Ruby on windows is clumbsy and a bit unstable (could be just fine, but admitedly Ruby is still new to me.) So I fall back to doing it all on my OSX box vis ZSH and SublimeText2. Since having to physically sit at the workstation can be a bit restrictive, remoting into the workstation has been the best workflow so far. Which by the way, Teamviewer is a great remote option when dealing with cross-platform connectivity.

Again, ever searching for a more streamlined approach to things, google was put to the test. Cloud-based techologies appeal to me, especially platforms as a service. They offer instant connectivity, flexible interfaces, continuous updates and often work on nearly all platforms, including mobile devices. In that light, the google searchs introduced me to Nitrous.io and its awesomesauce.

Nitrous.IO is a cloud application platform that helps you create and configure the infrastructure and services for complex web applications in just seconds.

nitrous.io Interface

Nitrous is an AWS (Amazon Web Services) backed cloud system that exposes a Linux VM and give you a root access acount to a secure rapid-development enviornmnet. Within seconds of signup, my little cloud “server” was up and running with Ruby pre-installed and ready to run. I installed jekyll, a few templates via github, added some gems like glynn and compiled a test jekyll site. In all honesty, I was done in 5 minutes. I was instantly a fan!

So why go through the effort to do this, if my mac was already compiling mattbenimble.com?

Nitrous.io allows me to write posts anywhere at anytime. For example, I wrote the first 3 paragraphs on my mac, saved and walked away. I’ve been writing the rest of this post via my laptop without downloading any software, syncing via dropbox, or any other file transfers. When Im done, Im going to hit the nitrous console and build, optimize and upload this page with a few commands. Nitrous works on Chrome as a web-page or it can be added as a Chrome Desktop app. It also has a standalone dekstop app, if desired, to allow a developer to use their own IDE.

This methodolody is obviously not for everyone, it requires some programming knowledge and a love for the keyboard. There is no GUI or live preview of the site, its all raw Markdown and CLI commands. I find it refreshing though, after spending hours working with Revit, Navisworks and the countless other applications where I have to remember all the button locations. Here, I just type and speak my mind.

Hope you all are enjoying the introductions to some bad-ass apps out on the inter-webs and I will most likely continue to bring the good stuff as I come across it.