This blog has seen many iterations on many different platforms. I’ve tried Wordpress, Tumblr, SquareSpace, Pelican, Calepin, and Jekyll on Github Pages. I’m probably forgetting others.

Today this site is a Node.js app built using the simple, modular static site generator, Simple seldom equals easy, and that is very true here. There is little documentation for Metalsmith and I am not a talented developer. However, Ev wrote a useful guide and is keen to answer any questions over email.

I chose this route for a couple of reasons.

  1. I want to challenge myself by learning something new.
  2. I want complete control over the hosting and platform for this site.

Rolling my own site gave me the opportunity to learn a very small amount of CSS, HTML and Node.js. Building it from the ground up provided me with intimate knowledge of how all of these things work together. If something breaks, it’s almost certainly because of something I did wrong. I can troubleshoot almost any issue. I’m in control of everything except domain and VPS hosting, and either of those can be changed to any other provider with minimal effort or downtime. I know this site and how it works better than anyone else.

Now I’m doing the same thing with my mailing list. I gave everyone on the list a week to confirm they wanted to continue to hear from me, then deleted my Mailchimp account. Some people stayed. Most did not.

The new list is small, and manually maintained. I replaced Mailchimp with another Node.js app. Based on node-list, it uses nodemailer to send letters using my email account. The first letter to the new list goes out Sunday, June 12. Will it make it to everyone’s inboxes? I’ve tested it, and it seems to work. If it doesn’t, it’ll be up to me to figure out why. Want to find out if it works?

Roll your own | June 10, 2016 by James. Looking for more? Check the archive or follow the feed. Want to say hello? Send me an email. Or a beer.