A foggy forest

Into the woods

I couldn’t just start posting again. Believe me, I wanted to.

A month and a half ago, I mentioned two things that I wanted to do with this site: Write about old video games and maybe switch to Forestry. Well, it took a while, but I did put together a tedious post about Track & Field II. It was more work than I care to admit, but I did it and I’m proud of it.

As for switching the CMS on this site to Forestry, well I did that too. I think I did, anyway. I mean, I‘m writing this on Forestry. But I can never just do a thing. I had to do tons of things.

This wasn’t just an arbitrary change. When I rebooted this site, I included Netlify CMS as a means up updating it. I love the idea of keeping all my text in nice, clean, version-controlled Markdown. Netlify CMS was a beautiful solution that helped me go completely static on this site, while keeping the machinery that runs it open-source.

Unfortunately, that’s where things start to fall apart. I love Netlify’s platform. I love it so much that I began using it at work to host sites for some major conferences that we run. As a platform for building and serving high-performing static sites, you can’t go wrong.

Over the last year, I worked with Netlify CMS a lot. Like, a lot. I built three sites with it for work, and I pushed it to its limit. What I learned is that while it works fine in a pinch for a technically savvy user like myself, it was a mistake to put it in front of anybody else. The little bugs are annoying (would you like to recover your nonexistent draft), but the UX is just too rough. It’s too much to bother getting into right now, and this isn’t about trashing the details of Netlify CMS itself.

Netlify CMS is a great tech demo, but it’s pretty much an abandoned product. It has 475 open issues on GitHub, and development moves at a snail’s pace. Users still love the idea of it — even going so far as to contribute designs to improve it.

Yes, there have been small, incremental improvements under the hood, but visually, just about nothing has changed in three years the community has been begging for better design and UX. And while the Netlify CMS team has started a UX improvement project, I just can’t wait it out any more. If I want to write more, I need a CMS that’s conducive to writing. Unfortunately, Netlify CMS isn’t it — at least not today.

So anyway

I’ve spent the last two weeks working on major, under-the-hood changes to this site. It’s still powered by Eleventy, but with some big improvements. Eleventy added support for arbitrary data file formats a few versions back, meaning I can now use Sass to write styles without shoehorning Gulp into the build process. That’s a nice-to-have but I was also hoping to get a speed boost out of the upgrade. Rather than figure all that out from scratch, I turned to an excellent starter by Max Böck. I also updated to the latest version of Eleventy, which is becoming a runaway freight train of a project (in a good way).

And yes, I switched over to Forestry. It’s beautifully designed, and the writing experience is a huge improvement (even if I still have to manually type apostrophes). I’m not quite done setting it up, so I don’t have a ton to say right now, but maybe I’ll write more in the future.

That’s the idea, anyway.