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New website for Pepperminty Wiki

By now, Pepperminty Wiki is quite probably my longest running project - and I'm absolutely committed to continuing to support and improve it over time (I use it to host quite a lot of very important information myself).

As part of this, one of the things I'm always looking to improve is the installation process and the first impression users get when they first visit Pepperminty Wiki. Currently, this has a GitHub repository. This is great (as it shows people that we're open-source), but it isn't particularly user-friendly for those who are less technically inclined.

To this end, I've built a shiny new website to introduce people to Pepperminty Wiki and the features it has to offer. I've been thinking about this for a while, and I realised that actually despite the fact that I haven't yet incremented the version number to v1.0 yet (as of the time of posting the latest stable release is v0.22), Pepperminty Wiki is actually pretty mature, easy to deploy and use, and stable.

The new website for Pepperminty Wiki (link below)

(Above: The new Pepperminty Wiki website. Check it out here!)

The stability is a new one for me, as it isn't something I've traditionally put much of a focus on - instead focusing on educational purposes. Development of Pepperminty Wiki has sort of fallen into a pattern of 2-3 releases per year - each of which is preceded by one or more beta releases. I always leave at least 1 week between releasing a beta and the subsequent stable release to give myself and beta testers (of which Pepperminty Wiki has some! If you're reading this, I really appreciate it) time to spot any last-minute issues.

Anyway, the website can be found here: https://peppermint.mooncarrot.space/

Share it with your friends! :D

The initial plan was to buy a domain name like pepperminty.wiki for it, but after looking into the prices (~£36.29 per year) I found it was waaay too expensive for a project that I'm not earning a penny from working on (of course, if you're feeling that way inclined I have a Liberapay setup if you'd like to contribute towards server costs, but it's certainly not required).

Instead, I used a subdomain of one of my existing domains, mooncarrot.space (I use this one mostly for personal web app instances on my new infrastructure I'm blogging about in my cluster series), which is a bit shorter and easier to spell/say than starbeamrainbowlabs.com if you're not used to it.

After a few false starts, I settled on using Eleventy as my static site generator of choice. I'm not making use of all it's features (not even close), but I've found it fairly easy to use and understand how it ticks - and also flexible enough such that it will work with me, rather attempting to force me into a particular way of working.

Honourable mentions here include Hugo (great project, but if I recall correctly I found it confusing and complicated to setup and use), documentation (an epic documentation generator for JS projects, but not suitable for this type of website - check out some of the docs I auto-generate via my Laminar CI setup: powahroot, applause-cli, terrain50).

The Pepperminty Wiki website light theme

(Above: The light theme for the website - which one you see depends on your system preference - I use prefers-colour-scheme here. Personally I prefer the dark theme myself, as it's easier on my eyes)

The experience of implementing the website was an interesting one. Never having built a website to 'sell' something before (even if this is for a thing that's free), I found the most challenging part of the experience determining what text to use to appropriately describe the features of Pepperminty Wiki.

From the beginning I sort of had a vision for how I wanted the website to look. I wanted an introductory bit at the top (with a screenshot at a cool angle!), followed by a bit that explained the features, the some screenshots with short descriptions, followed finally by a download section. I also wanted it to be completely mobile-friendly.

A screenshot of the website as viewed by a mobile device

(Above: A screenshot of the website as viewed by a mobile device. The Firefox Developer Tools were useful for simulating this)

For the most part, this panned out quite well. Keeping the design relatively simple enabled me to support mobile devices as I went along, with minimal tweaks needed at the end of the process (mobile support really needs to be part of the initial design process).

The cool screenshot at the top and the fancy orange buttons you'll see in various places across the site were especially fun to put together - the iterative process of adding CSS directives to bring the idea I had in my head as to how I wanted it to look to life was very satisfying. I think I'll use the same basic principle I used for the fancy buttons again elsewhere (try hovering over them and clicking them to see the animations).

The bottom of the website, showing the fancy orange buttons

(Above: The bottom of the website, showing the fancy orange buttons)

I did contemplate the idea of using a CSS framework for the website, but not having seriously used one before for a personal project combined with the advent of the CSS grid ended up in the decision to abandon the use of a framework once again (I'll learn one eventually, I'm sure ).

So far my experience with frameworks is that they just get in the way when you want to do something that wasn't considered when the framework was built, but I suppose that given their widespread use elsewhere that I really should make an effort to learn at least one framework to get that experience (any suggestions in the comments are welcome).

All in all the experience of building the Pepperminty Wiki website was an enjoyable one. It took a number of hours over a number of days to put together (putting the false starts aside), but I feel as though it was definitely worth it.

Find the website here: https://peppermint.mooncarrot.space/

If I end up moving it at a later date, I'll ensure there's a redirect in place so the above link won't break.

Found this useful? Got a comment about or a suggestion to improve the website? Comment below! I'd love to hear from you.

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