Re-Rebuilding My Website

Now the thing works. But not working well.

This is a log-like post for what I have done and plan to do for my website.

Goal

Have a really working website -with almost zero frontend knowledge :D

Approach

Make use of my limited frontend knowledge to read the code of open source projects and build mine according to the licenses.

Not build from scratch, in a word.

Analysis

The domain is easy to get.

The server is also not hard. But it is too much for my needs. After all, all I need is a simple website that displays something at minimum cost. Therefore, the static site, such as Github Pages, is the way to go.

Blog

It seems that the most popular way to go is a static blog hosted on Github Pages.

And I’m also most experienced with that, too. So, let’s begin with creating a Hexo blog.

Ready-to-use Hexo themes

The first intuition was to find some themes listed on the website of Hexo. Learn from others - that’s how one improves.

(I wrote this post on Sept 14th, 2018. Plenty of new ones are likely to be added to Hexo Themes)

Here are the lists of some themes I found interesting while researching (links to demo):

Blog

Portfolio

Wiki

Doc

Themes with some good details

  • Ochuunn
    • brilliant front page
  • one
    • intriguing interactive element
  • random
    • brilliant front page

The themes I decided to use (links to repo)

Set up the blog

Add themes as submodule of local git…done.

Register a disqus account…done.

Create a favicon…done.

Change the config…working.

Modify the source code…working.

  • code block
  • inner bar
  • side bar for post
  • font
  • icon
  • bottom bar

Details (detailed details)

The first thing I decided to do was to change the appearance of the code blocks. I am not a big fan of any additional decoration for it.

So I dived into the source code and looked for any codes related to “highlight”. The first thing I noticed was the partial styl files called “highlight”. I tried to edit it but nothing happened.

I know Stylus is a dynamic stylesheet preprocessor language. Maybe I need to think about how Hexo compiles it? After trying to delete some, nothing happened to the website displayed.

Then I noticed, the only file that it needs is the style.css alone. By targeting the highlight class, succeeded to remove the extra decorations.

(I was thinking about the meaning of the Stylus files. But I gave them up considering all the cost, such as the need to import normalize.css, which would slow down the speed of such a small site of mine. And the most important problem is, I have no deep knowledge about things like Bootstrap)

But the one left is… not beautiful.

The next step I took was to revisit the list of the Hexo blogs with theme source codes. It seems that previously, I focused too much on the overall “feeling”. Some of them, thou having appealing effects, are exceedingly bad at details. One blog has light theme but dark code block. The codes found on another one is almost impossible to read due to the similar colors.

Those were not good.

From the ones I leafed through, the design of material-x stood out. Reading its source code, I created a not-so-bad highlight block for my blog.

Next modification I did was to remove the sticky bar. For some unknown reason, while the sticky bar of the original blog would disappear as the user scrolls down, the one of mine never changed. It was always there and being distracting. This removal was not hard that hard.

One of the most heated issues of the original theme was the its line height. I have no idea why the author chose to make the lines “crowded”. I believe he had his reasons. But, unfortunately, I am not clever enough to figure out them on my own. So I decided to change both the font and the line height.

Choices are always hard to make when they are many. I searched again and again and even read about the difference between serif and sans serif (like the history and successful applications by big companies). I went to some online Wordpress theme stores to see what fonts they are using. But eventually, I just gave up and chose Open Sans instead.

The hardest one had not come yet. When I tried to add my Instagram social link, I realized that the original theme did not support its icon.

The icons in graphic design was a mystery to me since I saw no image files in the code. How could the website just draw a shape? After searching around, I came to know about the difference between SVG and iconfonts.

“Well, the svg sprite looks cool! I wanna use that!”

I managed to find the SVG sprite from the original theme. And hard-coding few additional SVG icons into it did not seem very hard.

But, the theme here used the “font-class” way to do it. To have additional icons, I need a way to change the ttf files and maintained the original unicode. Or I need to rewrite all the related codes and functions.

Changing all the codes was not impossible but too much to do right now. And I also need to debug the SVG sprite on my own without any related frontend knowledge. The difficulty was unpredictable. Therefore, the “font-class” way still seemed good to me.

But now I need a way to “unpack and repack” the ttf icons. I tried to skip the “unpack” step by searching around to see if I could find the original icons. But it was so hard to keep the “names” of each icon identical in this way. Should I just delete all the unnecessary icons? Could I use some software to manage them?

It was not easy especially when I am new. After messing around for quite a while, I suddenly found out the online app of icomoon could load the SVG sprite and regenerate the font files I needed. I doubted if it was so common and obvious that no one would ever have written a tutorial for me to learn this information. And it could keep all the “names” of the icons, too!

I knew it was not a graceful way to do it. But it worked at least. It took some time for me to make the icon truly work. But the hard part was over, although I still spent a long time figuring out how the side-bars worked.

The rest of the modification is all about small things, like fixing a logical statement, adding variables and so forth. I have written too much for a post so let’s stop here. If you are curious, you can read the “Readme.md” of the modified theme under my Github account.

Home

I feel like having a home page, clean and compelling, to serve as the “www” host of my domain, similar to the one of geekplus.com and my old home page.

Reference

Now I need a break (´._.`).