Grovelife website refresh

2020 Dec 30

I refreshed our family website for 2021. However, some pictures are still only available at the old website.

The new site is built from text files with a custom app. This continues a tradition of making custom tools for building my own website. The first was by hand, the second in Java, the third in Ruby, and now this one is in Swift. In my day job I use a graphical computer language, and so this project was a way to get practice again in a text computer language.

I actually had to re-learn html and css as I developed the design language for the website and its implementation. A lot of good changes had occurred in css since my last website design effort and so I was able to simplify some things and still get better performance.

I learned a little bit of javascript as well to be able to make some custom webpage functionality. (No third-party code or frameworks though.)

There are a lot of good static website builders out there, and yes, I could have used one of them. However, I find that it frustrates me to not know what some tool is doing inside its black box. I did use a software sub-system written by another guy that does the conversion from the page texts into html. Since I had the software source for this tool available to me, I could study it to figure out what it was doing.

I wanted my website generator to do some things that I had not seen other website builders do. The only way to get that was to make this functionality myself. I might have been able to extend an existing generator, but that might have been difficult and I might not know if I would be successful until too far along that path.


Because of COVID-19 I had taken hardly any vacation in 2020. I have been at my company for a long time, so I accumulate quite a bit of vacation in a year. I was able to take off most of December and that was when I developed the website and the builder software.

When I get going on a project, often I can taste it being done. The anticipation gets quite high. One evening when I was well along on the Weave builder software, Austin and Janae had come over with their family for regular dinner together. They were calling me to the table at a point when I had my head deep into some software detail.

Janae said later that I put my face into my hands and said, "I just want to get this website done!".   :-D   I did get it done sufficiently before my vacation time ended in 2020, so success in the end.

Learning can be a slow process and often writing software is deeply tied up with learning.