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Dumb things Sam does #41384: Changing my site builder right before classes start

Since I refuse to use Blackboard (or any CMS [1], for that matter), I have developed a number of tools to build my course Web sites. These include a simplified markup language, akin to Markdown [2], a standard directory structure that I keep in a github repository, and a variety of small utilities to speed my Web development. I’ve been making the transition from my markup language to Markdown, but missing the variables.

My colleague, Charlie Curtsinger, uses Jekyll. Since we work together on CSC 151, I thought I should probably switch to his system. Of course, I made the decision about a week ago, and didn’t really have a lot of time during that week. I got a variant of Charlie’s stuff up and running in a day or two [3]. But then I decided to add all of the things I think my sites should include, such as my daily notes, course news, eboards, and more.

Unfortunately, adding all of that ended up being more work than I anticipated. I don’t quite have everything working, and it’s now the 11 p.m. on the night before classes start. Worse yet, I’ve only worked on the CSC 151 course site [4]. How long will it take me to get to the other sites? We’ll see.

Why is it so much effort? Well, take a look at my most recent version of the CSC 151 Web site. How much stuff is there? Almost 800 Web pages. About 1400 source files used to generate those 800 Web pages, and I’m probably missing some. Whle Charlie and Titus have already done a ton of work moving over the readings and labs, getting the other stuff to work was much harder than I expected. I have the first day’s class ready, and the things that Charlie and Titus put into place last semester, but that’s about it.

In any case, if I’m going to teach classes tomorrow, I think I need to keep this essay short. Suffice to say, Don’t make huge changes to your processes with a very limited time frame!

You can expect some followup essays on my experiences with Jekyll (or Hyde, as the case may be), my general approach to course Web design, and similar issues.

[1] Course management system.

[2] Why didn’t I just use Markdown? I developed it twenty years ago, before Markdown existed. Plus, mine included variables.

[3] Charlie clearly put together a nice basic system.

[4] I know what I’m teaching in the other courses; I just don’t have it organized into a Web site. The optimist in me says that I can get it done quickly.

Version 1.0 of 2017-01-22.