Peter's Pages Peter's Pages
I have spent numerous hours tinkering with my personal website. It started off as HTML pages generated from text files, then I tried iWeb, then HTML pages generated from data in Filemaker's ''Bento'', then Joomla, then back to iWeb, and currently it's HTML pages statically generated from text files. This time I've rearranged the deck chairs to make the website more blog-like, and to enable multiple paths to the same page.

Why static generation rather than using something dynamic like Wordpress or Drupal or Joomla? Those are good tools for the right website, but the static approach reduces worries about keeping one's website secure, about having to apply updates to the software running the website. The static approach is likely to be faster, less demanding on the web server, but that hasn't been a concern to me at least.

Having the website defined as text files on one's local machine rather in MySQL database tables is a lot easier to backup, and also less at risk at being locked into one particular technology.

I can edit the website from the comfort of my iPad while I'm lapsitting our cat Tabitha. The website can be re-structured by moving and renaming files and directories around. The text files have a simplistic format so I can just type away, and most of the text is content.

So why not use one of the established static website generators like Jekyll or Hugo? Those are also good tools for the right website, with plenty of functionality. One answer is computing is a hobby of mine, and implementing a website generator is fun in its way to me. None of the static website generators give quite what I'm after, and while they might be customised to do so in terms of plugins and templates the learning curve looks as steep as writing one's own simple generator.

Another answer is that these tools to me are about flexibility and configurability. I wanted something which was deliberately limited and constraining, which would dissuade me from being too clever. So an analogy might be I'd take an automatic car over one with a manual gearbox, being able to choose which gear I'm in doesn't interest me so much as getting from A to B.

There is the minor question of whether anyone else reads the pages on my website, or whether it's like all the blogs out there with zero comments. When I've blundered (like failing to replace the default text on iWeb pages, or got the formatting wrong) I take some comfort in thinking no-one may have seen my misdeed. But it's rare for people to report mistakes on websites, they normally just move on.