2016, September 7th

hoff.tech is built using Metalsmith.

Metalsmith is a file processing pipeline tool. It's a little like a static site generator, like Jekyll or Octopress, but generating static sites is just one of the many things that it's capable of.

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hoff.tech is a static site, which means that it consists only of HTML, CSS, and a wee bit of client-side JavaScript. There's no server-side processing here! Every time a browser requests the page at hoff.tech, the server grabs the file index.html and sends it back out over the wire. No modification, footer date stamps, or hit counters added!

However, there's a ton of processing that goes into building the site before deploying the static version to the server. Every time the site changes locally while developing (or, while deploying the site to production), the changed files and assets need to be run through a big long Metalsmith processing pipeline to produce a new version of the site.

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The Metalsmith file processing pipeline can do a ton of different things, but can basically be reduced to three steps:

  1. Grab all the files from the src directory
  2. Do stuff to them
  3. Write the changed files to the build directory

Step 2 is the fun part. For metalsmith-markdown, it'll grab all Markdown files (files with the *.md extension) in your src directory, convert them into HTML files, and write them to the build directory.

Things get a bit more complicated when you start chaining plugins together. If you wanted to generate your HTML files with heading permalinks, you'd run it through metalsmith-markdown, then take all of those generated HTML files and add anchor tags to each heading, and then write the results to build.

Things get more complicated when you want to use branches, or process jade pug templates and layouts, or preprocess some CSS.

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hoff.tech is hosted on GitHub Pages, on my user repo kenhoff.github.io. Fo' free!

hoff.tech is continuously integrated and built on CircleCI using scary dark magic. Spoooooky!

I actually ended up building my own Metalsmith plugin just for hoff.tech! I needed to automatically resize all of the mega images that I got from Unsplash to decrease my page's load time, so I built metalsmith-image-resizer.

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Why Metalsmith?

Because I'm a Node person, and I don't really want to be a Ruby person. Sorry :(

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Disclaimer: I ride a shiny black-and-gold fixie to work every day.

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