Journal - Class of 2020 Goes Static

July 2, 2017

"The only constant is change."

-- Heraclitus (paraphrased)

Changes

Recent changes have had an impact on my available time. In response I’m cutting back on side projects and streamlining work flows.

The Class of 2020 website is one obvious casualty, but there are others. The new site is built with Hugo, a static website generator. This simplifies the work and reduces costs.

I will also maintain fewer web sites. Look for information on the Class of 2020 at my main site: ronliskey.com

If this transition is successful, I may have more time for the good stuff—travel, research, explorations, experiments, guitar pickin’ and teaching.

What is lost

The new system is not database-driven. Checking site usage shows that features requiring a database, such as secure login and private content, were rarely used.

Most visitors only needed to check announcements. It also seems most visitors use mobile gadgets. The new site loads faster and is optimized for mobile viewing.

I’ll keep the old site running for a while at wss4.ronliskey.com in case there’s something there anyone needs. Over time I’ll copy any important information over to the new site.

For the technically curious

The original site is built with Drupal, a feature-rich CMS that served its purpose. However, Drupal is time-consuming to administer, requires frequent security updates, has slow response times, uses a relatively expensive server configuration, and is written in PHP, one of the world’s uglier programming languages. Furthermore, the next version of Drupal is focused heavily on the needs of large enterprises, and no longer serves smaller organizations.

Many seeking a new CMS switch to WordPress. I choose not to because it has many of the problems facing Drupal, plus a few of it’s own, including:

  • Insecure: Many security flaws, especially in the plugins. Highly vulnerable to online attacks.
  • Low Quality: Written in very old, procedural PHP. The code is optimized for ease-of-use by hobbyist programmers. Not bad in itself, but leads to longterm performance and quality issues.
  • Database Dependent: Static site generators make it easy to avoid this added complexity.
  • Poor Performance: PHP is inherently slow, and WordPress’ implementation adds to the problem.

The new website is built with Hugo, a static website generator written in Go. Hugo is simple, efficient and fast.

Go is a young general purpose programming language with a clean and modern syntax. It’s too soon to know, but Go seems primed to become one of the preferred languages for the study of computer programming (and for good future employment prospects).

Can Go be used to teach computer skills to middle and high school students? Time to experiment…