Why Hugo

This site had its exceedingly humble beginnings on GitHub as a personal page created with Jekyll and the Minimal Mistakes theme. The intent was to create an online resume and portfolio of my work. It’s still a place I hope to showcase some of the things I’ve worked on, both technologically and musically.

When I first started the site, Hugo wasn’t a project and GitHub had just started offering personal pages with support for a few different static site generators. Jekyll seemed to be primary among them. Having done a few very small websites in college using pure HTML and eschewing the college’s recommended practice of generating websites with MS Word, I was intrigued by the concept of a static site generator. I had tried my hand at HTML, CSS and PHP by building an early corporate intranet, but I was by no means a web developer. I’m still not. Wwebsite building does hold great interest for me, however.

I decided to jump in with both feet and learn Jekyll, which meant I needed to learn a bit about Ruby on Rails as well as the Liquid templating style. I didn’t really know what that meant, but it did sound cool. It felt cool, too, in that techy sort of way. I had intended to create my own theme, but found out quickly that was way over my head. And there are a ton of really cool themes for Jekyll out there. So I chose a theme, fought my way through the Ruby on Rails development environment, got the site stood up and pushed it all to GitHub Pages. I had been working with Git for a little while by then, so there was one tool I didn’t have to learn.

Eventually, I found that Ruby on Rails was miserable to deal with for a non-developer as myself. I didn’t quite understand Liquid, and I felt like Jekyll’s overall layout was quite arcane. To be fair, most of the shortcomings were likely my own, and I do have mad respect for the Jekyll developers and community. But it just wasn’t quite clikcing for me. I got the site up, put up a few things and that was about as far as I took it.

A good few years went by and I kept promising myself to do something with my site. I had also been considering a website project for my weekend rock band. Poking around online and falling down rabbit holes eventually lead me to the Hugo project. It all looked eerily familiar to the Jekyll project until I discovered it had its own built in development server and was built with Go. I knew nothing about Go, except that it wasn’t Ruby on Rails and the promise of a built in development server sounded too good to be true. So I did some research, installed it to my laptop and gave it a go. I downloaded a theme since building my own just seemed too daunting, and started the website project for my rock band. I spent weeks just getting a feel for the layout of Hugo and how the templating language worked. It also felt arcane, but the more I worked with it, the more it finally clicked.

The rock band website looked really nice with the pre-built theme, but I had to modify some portions to make it do what I needed it to do. After it was up, I decided it was time to migrate my personal website to Hugo. Vercel proved itself a nice hosting site so that I didn’t have to mess with GitHub Pages again. I tried to use another pre-built theme, but I really liked the look of the Jekyll Minimal Mistakes theme I was already using. There wasn’t a direct port of that theme at the time, and none of the other available themes really satisfied me. So I built my own, inspired heavily by Minimal Mistakes. What a learning process that was.

I’m by no means a web developer (I think I said that already), but my experience with Hugo has been enjoyable. I like it way better than dealing with Wordpress, Joomla, Drupal or one of those other heavy GUI sites. It’s a great project for my spare time and creates a nice site. Your mileage may vary, but I’d definitely recommend anyone interested in static site generators to give it a good look.

Samuel A. Campbell
Technology. Music. And everything between.
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