Hello Hugo

Last week, I began the process of moving this site from Jekyll to Hugo. Jekyll is great. Really great, actually. It was my first real experiment with static sites and it was really fun and taught me a lot. But I’ve been starting to feel its limits. I pumped in everything from the past iterations of my blog, through WordPress and Tumblr, leaving me with over 1,400 posts. So building the site with Jekyll each time I wanted to update it was slowwwww. Jekyll’s other big draw – its GitHub integration is amazing – is great if you’re hosting your site there. But I’m not. I’m self-hosting. So I started looking at Hugo.

I also had a look at Middleman, which has some impressive names using it, but was just a deeply unpleasant experience as an end-user1.

So for funtimes, I wanted to see how long it would take a fresh, vanilla install of the three most popular static site generators – Jekyll, Middleman and Hugo – to render the 1,400+ individual markdown files that make up this blog.

35.35 real 31.04 user 2.50 sys

22.47 real 30.61 user 3.97 sys

8.12 real 8.96 user 1.45 sys

It’s hard to argue with this kind of performance improvement, but what sealed the deal was the fact they include a built-in hugo import jekyll command that can get you started migrating your site across. I had my entire site migrated across in less than an hour.

  1. Middleman feels as if it’s been written for robots and not humans. To build your site in Jekyll, you type jekyll build, which is easy to remember. To build it in Hugo, you just type hugo, which is almost impossible to forget. To build your site in MM, you type bundle exec middleman build, which yes, is easy enough to remember after you’ve done it a couple of times but my God, it’s so clunky and basically tells you everything you need to know about what it’s like to use Middleman.

Pico 8

Recently, I’ve fallen in love with Pico-8. It has completely replaced Processing as my go-to tool for creating toys in code. If you’re of the same vintage as me (i.e. you lived through the 8-bit era and your year of birth seems distressingly far down web forms), then you might get a kick out of it too. Here are some of the reasons I like it so much.

1. It has everything you need

It’s got a built-in editors for code, sound effects, music and levels. You can construct an entire game without ever leaving the application.

2. It’s web-aware

With the touch of a button1, you can generate a gif of your program as it’s running. A small, perfectly-sized gif that’s perfect for tweeting. Speaking of which…

3. < 140 characters to do cool things

The #pico8 hashtag on Twitter has some great examples of the things people are doing with Pico-8. In less than 140 characters, you can have an entire program.

4. It reminds me of the good old days

I still remember sitting in front of a Commodore 64 for hours and typing out a program from Commodore User Magazine. It was a great way of learning a language and, looking back I realise, a great way of teaching patience. Well, the Pico-8 Fanzine also has a bunch of programs that you can type out yourself.

  1. or well, two touches of a button. One to start the recording, one to stop it.