Obligatory post about my blogging stack

Spoiler alert: It's Svelte. Or Sapper to be more precise. And nothing else...

My goal is to use sapper as a slightly more jumped up version of Eleventy. I don't forsee ever using the server bits of it and will be deploying it the JAMstack way on Netlify. I do want the ability to do component driven development and incorporate the interactive capabilities of a bonafide JS framework as necessary. But I want it to get out of the way.

The data plateau

The Eleventy data cascade is one of those features that makes people go wow about the simplicity. It's a tremendous abstraction for a framework that otherwise does not do much of that for you. I'm opting out of it, though.

The template for the Sapper startup had a blog section setup that looked… unappealing to say the least. The html was manually embedded in JSON and the generic blog component had to prefix all of the styles with a global to get around the unused style elimination of Svelte. It seemed like the framework was fighting itself. I know that I could probably setup whatever markdown pipeline to improve this but figuring this out was such a bikeshedding black hole. Here's a non-exhaustive list of ideas that I had for my "blog infrastructure":

  • Svelte-kit: Recently in beta but I tried it and changes did not refresh in my browser. Nope! Let's be boring for a bit.
  • Datomic, with some combination of Clojure/ClojureScript to interact with it ergonomically. Integrating a separate tech stack for a static site and learning a different way to model data in a language I'm a bit rusty in seemed like a bridge too far.
  • DataScript with some combination of mori-js bridge so I could maybe get Datomic-esque but still be in Javascript. Questioned the value of what I'd be learning, ie just an imitation of the real thing.
  • Flat data files with ImmerJS patch stream to have an event source stream of changes. If I just use static files, don't I get this kinda for free from git anyways?
  • Screwing off entirely and going back to Eleventy because Sapper layout inheritance seemed too simplistic. But I want to have the option to build beautiful interactive experiences with component driven workflows.

All of that was just procrastination from doing what's important: just getting out there and writing. So I'm going to just use files. Each blog post will be a Svelte component, no [slug].svelte routing indirection. Writing just becomes mostly creating a new file in a directory. The main challenge then becomes generating listing content from a directory of files. I can easily do this with Markdown frontmatter, right?

No markdown thanks

Actually markdown seemed to conflict with one of my stated goals of providing beautiful interactivity if I needed it. Going down this rabbit hole lead to investigation into what MDX equivalents would be in Svelte-land. Those are some technical decisions that I both don't want to blaze a trail in or put in front of myself and writing things that go out on the internet. Given that, what is it that markdown is giving you over HTML? I can use Emmet and be decently productive in writing prose. It may be less structure overall, and be difficult to standardize and update styling across the entire site but I'm ok with that. I think it will be fun to see how this site evolves as I improve, to be honest. I don't need to go for the professional look across historical blog posts. I may reconsider this, since it Emmet has been a bit annoying so far in VS Code (especially for links, sheesh) but that's how I'm moving forward for the time being.

I do lose frontmatter by using Svelte components instead of markdown, however. My intention is to just have a data file extension of the same name or something similar. I can change 2 files at a time, especially if I help myself with some automation. Let me get to the point where I have enough posts such that updating a listing page manually becomes laborious. That will be a good problem to have.

CSS rough going

The site will look kinda janky for a bit. While I'm a frontend developer, I'm more of a the back of the frontend developer at my job. I don't usually build from scratch without the assistance of frameworks or component libraries. So I'm forcing myself to learn. I hope to not use any external CSS, apart from some reset style help, perhaps. It feels like 'getting my hands dirty' and using the platform on a more intimate level. I look forward to the fun experimentation I can unlock without needing to polyfill or consider compatibility. This will be a space for me to play and I look forward to it.