Fixing Your Video – Static Site Generator
Fixing Your Video! was my very serious side project and budding product business for many years before I made the decision to pivot to software development. It’s a collection of 40+ video tutorials for those who have been thrust into the role of video marketing without having any prior experience.
Originally, fixingyourvideo.com was built on a heavily-customized and heavily-hacked-together WordPress site. Over time, my frustration with the limitations of 2016-era WordPress grated on my nerves, and I was eager to find an alternative.
Simultaneously, after rekindling my love for front-end web development by building the Titlemaker, I was eager to flex my skills even further.
stackingthebricks.com, a resource for budding bootstrapped product entrepreneurs created by two mentors and friends of mine, had recently made the switch from WP to a static site built around nanoc. This inspired me to do the same sort of thing for my own site!
How The Thing Works
fixingyourvideo.com is built around Pelican, a static site generator written in Python, my favorite programming language ever.
The process is quite simple: write a blog post in Markdown, and it automagically rebuilds the entire site and turns your post into a fully-formatted HTML page.
My favorite Markdown editor, by far, was Typora. I think it was a combination of… the list of all Markdown files (and, by extension, blog posts) on the left side, the source code editor, and the fact that it doesn’t try to sequester all your Markdown into some sort of proprietary database instead of simply using your machine’s native filesystem. It’s also currently in beta and, as such, is completely free!
The amount of customization provided by a static site generator was genuinely mind-blowing. It allowed me to fine-tune the design in a way that I’d never previously managed.
Far and away, the coolest thing about this workflow was custom markdown. You can code all the customized tags, blocks, etc. you could ever want in Python, and it renders it out exactly the way you want.
I learned a lot about modern vanilla front-end web design! This site is free of frameworks and is entirely vanilla, which I happen to think is highly underrated.
No more worrying about WP vulnerabilities! I can host the site anywhere without worrying about a back-end database! It’s all plain old HTML files.
Like the person who inspired me to switch everything over to a static site in the first place, it didn’t take terribly long before I realized I’d managed to discourage myself from actually getting “content” out into the world efficiently and promptly through this very-optimized-and-advantageous-but-also-technically-complex method I’d built. It was super funsies to build this out of nothing but Pelican and some custom Python; it’s very powerful and there’s a lot that can be done with it.
The main thing lacking, I think, is some sort of bespoke in-browser editor instead of being limited to Markdown files.
From the person who indirectly convinced me to build out a static site in the first place…
i think, ooh i could write about that!
then the embodied feeling of editing markdown in a fucking text editor hits me
i think, maybe later
— Amy Hoy (@amyhoy) June 4, 2021
Would I do it all over again this way? I’m not entirely convinced I would. I am, ironically, getting re-interested in WordPress and the advances it’s made since I bailed on it in 2017. Most notably Divi, which I’m currently using to build out this site in a hurry.
That said, this was a very good opportunity to learn more about vanilla front-end web development. I was far more satisfied with fyv2017 than I ever was with the WP-based site before it.