The Beginning

August 1, 2017

The first post

Earlier this week, I was considering a few options for building a portfolio site and trying to learn a bit of Bootstrap and responsive design. I’ve used the Github platform and thought that Github Pages would be a great way to get started. I made a pretty basic site with a red header, navigation bar, and some placeholder content and uploaded it. From the start, Bootstrap styles looked a lot nicer than standard HTML and CSS - being able to customize the grid a little to fit things onto mobile screens easily was great.

Unfortunately, adding a blogging-type component to post updates and whatever else would make things a lot harder to maintain. The header and footer would need to be present in every new .html file - which is fine, a template could be used, but if I wanted to add or remove a page from the nav bar later, I’d have to do it on every page on the site.

Jekyll makes all of this so much easier. I was able to reuse much of the layout I’d made with Bootstrap by writing a default layout and adjusting it for pages and posts. Any changes I make to these layouts would take effect for existing and new posts. I have it installed locally, and with a bit of debugging - and probably lots to come - it all seems to be coming together!

Right now I plan to use the site as sort of a working base to try out new web dev things - this summer I plan to make a few photo galleries with different tools and see what works well and what doesn’t.


One of the things I’m doing this summer after work is completing the early courses of a Fundamentals of Computing specialization from Coursera. It’s been a good experience so far. The first course was an intro to Python ending with a Pong mini-project. The second, which I just finished the first week of, delves a bit more into object-oriented programming and builds on the concepts of the first. The first mini-project was an implementation of the Memory game. All of these are written in Codeskulptor, a browser-based JS tool by John Greiner that lets you write and run Python code for learning.


I’m also starting an online course in Java in the coming week to supplement what I’ll be doing on campus this fall. Java Programming: Solving Problems with Software is another Coursera offering, ran by Duke University. It’s the second course of a pretty interesting Java specialization and something I’m looking forward to beginning. The five-course series ends with the building of a recommendation system using movie data (user ratings & movie titles).

This project, in bullet points

  • Created a new Github repository and made a basic red layout with Bootstrap.
  • Added a few icons from Font Awesome - home page, and footer social media icons.
  • Put everything together and committed the changes, uploading the site.
  • Decided to start fresh with Jekyll.
  • Installed Ruby and Jekyll on my Mac Mini.
  • Used blank slate option jekyll new . --blank and started adding some of my old CSS code in.
  • Made a default layout, page layout, and blog/post layout with a few automatic features like post title and date.
  • Deployed!

What's to come?

This weekend I hope to get some photos from a couple trails to start building a photo gallery or two. I’m looking forward to experimenting with Lightbox, Featherlight, and Fancybox. I’m also working on learning more about Git (especially from the command line!) and learning some Markdown to help with writing posts for Jekyll.

Read more posts