Welcome! This is the first blog post I am publishing here! 🎉
I rewrote my personal site and added a blog to it while doing it. I decided to write about some of my thoughts during the process for the first post.
Why switch? 🤔
My previous site was built using Gatsby.js. I didn't actually build it from scratch though. Like a lot of people probably did at some point in their lives, I copied a template and build on top of it. The site worked well enough as I only wanted to have something simple, a homepage, an about page, and that's pretty much it. The site is still live on Netlify if you want to check it out.
After some time passed, I realize that I don't want to just have a personal site just for the sake of it, I want a personal site to be a personal playground as well! I want it to be a place here I can play around with new tools or building new stuff when I feel like to do so. When I wanted to try something out, I found that I couldn't really do it as easily as I would like with how my previous site is set up. The template I used came with a lot of features (which is great if you just want to get up and running quickly!), which eventually overwhelmed me. Making changes feels like a chore; it wasn't fun. You know how you sometimes might get assigned tasks at work that doesn't excite you, but you have to do it? Yeah, that's kinda how it felt like, except I didn't have to do it (because I am not paid for it), so I ended up not working on it.
Well, enough is enough. I finally decided to rewrite my site with something I feel more comfortable and productive with. I am not building a site, I am actually looking to build a personal playground! With that in mind, I started to list down some goals.
The goal 🏁
It doesn't make much sense to rewrite a site and keep everything the same, so I decided on some stuff that I want to achieve after the rewrite, they are:
- Being able to make changes and add stuff easily
- A lightweight CSS solution
- A blog
Being able to make changes and add stuff easily
This is basically what the whole first section of this writing is about. I looked into several static site generators, with 11ty being the one that I almost went with. I wanted to work with MDX for the blog, so I figured it would make more sense to go with React. So, I ended up going with Next.js. I really like all the optimisations I get from Next.js out of the box, and the APIs feel much more intuitive to me compared to what I previously had.
I am also using Preact in place of React, to shave some loads out of the bundle. The way to do it is very straightforward. Simply follow this template and you are good to go! In the future though, we might be getting a dedicated Next.js Preact plugin to make this process more seamless.
I ended up going with Next.js + Preact combo. I am quite interested to play with 11ty + Turbolinks though, I might check them out for another project in the future.
A lightweight CSS solution
I have played around with some of the most popular CSS-in-JS solutions like
I feel more productive with
emotion APIs, but it always bothered me
that they add a bit of extra work to the main thread compared to using vanilla CSS.
I started looking into other CSS-in-JS solutions and found
goober has a <1 KB runtime, and
otion is small and atomic! Once Facebook
stylex open source, I would probably very be interested in that as well.
I ended up deciding to hop off the CSS-in-JS train and went with
tailwindcss for now. I have
heard a lot of good things about it, but I have never really tried it yet. I have to say, I am really liking it so far.
I can be productive quickly by using all the utility classes provided by Tailwind. The documentations are very helpful
especially for people who are new to it like me. The ability to purge unused CSS also
makes it really performant as well. This site currently ships 4.6 KB (brotli) of CSS after purging.
There are still a lot of Tailwind's features that I haven't leveraged though!
A blog 📝
I wanted to add a feature that didn't exist on my previous site. A blog would be perfect for that! I am also hoping to write more in the future, so a blog aligns with that as well.
MDX support was something I wanted to have on my blog, and apparently adding that was not really straightforward. I read a lot of articles, and ended up going with how Tailwind Blog does it. If you want to know more about it, I recommend reading their article on Tailwind Blog: "Building the Tailwind Blog". Most of the blog functionalities here currently is based on their implementations. I might play around with other approaches and if I do find a better approach for me, I might switch in the future.
My previous site was deployed on Netlify, and I didn't really have any particular reason to switch. I switched to Vercel anyway, thinking that it might be better in the long run, as I am using Next.js as well. What stood out to me though, was the speed of transferring the domain name over from Netlify's DNS to Vercel's. I remember that I needed to wait for a few hours before I can actually access my site at jackyef.com after adding the domain name to Netlify DNS. When I was transferring the domain to Vercel DNS, it took less than 5 minutes for the domain name to point to the new site! This is probably just a coincidence though, but I feel like it is worth mentioning here.
Well, that is all for the first post on this site! Honestly, the purpose of this post is mostly so that the site has something to show on the homepage 😅, but hopefully you got something out of it.
Thanks for reading this far! I had fun rewriting my old site, something that I haven't really had much of in the past months. The site is a bit plain and simple so far, but that's okay. After all that means there are still a lot of stuff that I can play with on this playground! We all need a playground where we can have a little bit of fun these days. 😄