I’ve spent the last couple weeks developing version 2 of this website as a Python Flask-based web application. This has required learning more about server administration, as well as putting into use the web-app development skills I’ve been chipping away at all year.
I’m happy to report that the new version of this site will be going live next week, with Micropub support implemented. Your end user experience should not change at all (but please report any broken links!) Improvements to navigation, content discovery, subscription, tags, and syndication are forthcoming.
My main motivation for this upgrade was to lower my self-imposed barrier to public writing and interaction.
Building this site by compiling files with a static site generator on my home computer, and hosting the site by copying files to static hosting (AWS S3), meant that I could only work on the site from my laptop. If I noticed a typo or thought of an improvement, I couldn’t update the site immediately; I had to stick it in my todo list as one more thing to tackle at home.
Irritating and unclear caching behaviors made it difficult for me to know when an edited post would finally be served to readers.
The difficulty of posting made it impractical to participate in more lightweight IndieWeb interactions by posting likes, bookmarks, and reblogs.
The new site’s Micropub support means I’ll be able to write and update posts on the fly, even from my phone. That’s not news to anyone who’s used social media or a blogging platform, but implementing the specification was a worthwhile technical challenge, and my activation energy for public writing and sharing will be massively decreased.
Three secondary factors pushed me to complete this project:
- The rewritten backend code will afford breaking my collection pages into individual posts. Several webpages, especially Books and Favorite Poems, are constituted of numerous small items. These pages receive frequent updates and expansions, but right now those updates aren’t visible to readers because they appear as totally quiet changes to pages first published months or years ago. The new code will publish additions to those pages as regular blog posts which are then scooped up into those collections.
- As I continue growing my backend development skills, the new server will let me host other apps. I’m most excited about finally getting to deploy Linguary, an (in-progress) application for enhancing Chinese-language study, research, and writing. Taking that app live will allow me to start using it for my own Chinese work, and using what you create is the quickest way to tell whether it’s worth pursuing.
- Since we met a couple months ago, Angelo Gladding has been a friend and mentor to me, including on this project. Thanks, Angelo!