Hello World

Why a blog? Because why not.

Like the rest of this site, it’s powered by Hugo, a static site generator powered by Go templates. The content of each page is written in markdown, and rendered into HTML by a series of hand-crafted templates and CSS.

Some history

These templates and CSS are an organic outgrowth of this site’s past as a bunch of HTML and CSS that I hacked together because someone told me I needed to have a website when I was applying to grad school.1

Because I had abundant free time in grad school love procrastinating, when I moved the site from our department’s FTP server to Github pages, I also refactored the site to generate some of the repetitive boilerplate HTML using templates. I chose Jekyll because it’s natively supported by Github pages (so not build step is required), and because it’s natural to write content for a Jekyll site directly in HTML which meant there was no need to mess with my artisinal, handcrafted HTML content.2

Eventually, I finished my PhD and had a ton of time on my hands was procrastinating and decided it was time to properly refresh the site.3 I decided to look at Hugo because it was the new hotness and because it’s powered by Go templates which provide a lot of power. I wanted to do things like generate a nicely formatted list of papers from some bibliographic data. Hugo is also more opinionated about the content being in markdown which is a position I was coming to appreciate more and more. Markdown is a great format for both reading and writing structured text, and I was starting to get sick of editing HTML by hand whenever I wanted to update something.

The downside of Hugo is that it’s not natively supported on Github pages, but needs to be run to generate the HTML files that actually get hosted. If I didn’t know any better, I would have to just do this manually and commit all the generated HTML before updating the Github repository. But fortunately, since becoming more involved with open source projects I’ve learned a bit more about continuous integration. So I was able (with some thrashing about) to figure out how to automatically render and deployed the site with Travis. If you yourself don’t want to mess around with that, Netlify provides a great hosting and CI service that includes Hugo, which makes it much simpler to host a Hugo site. I’ve used this for another site I made with Hugo.

Blogging with Hugo

Once Hugo was set up, adding a blog was straightforward: add templates for the list of posts and a single post, and write posts as markdown files in content/blog/post-title.md.

The first template is (layouts/blog/single.html), which renders the pages for individual posts (like this one):

{{ partial "header.html" . }}
<div id="content" class="blog">
    <h1 class="post-title">{{ .Title }}</h1>
    <div class="post-date" >
        {{ .PublishDate.Format "2 Jan 2006" }}
    </div>
    <div class="post" >
        {{ .Content }}
    </div>
</div>
{{ partial "footer.html" . }}

The other template is layouts/blog/list.html, which renders the list of posts at blog/

{{ partial "header.html" . }}
<div id="content">
    {{ .Content }}
    <div id="posts" >
        <ul class="posts" >
            {{ range .Pages }}
            <li>
                <a class="post-title" href="{{ .Permalink }}">
                    {{ .Title }}
                </a>
                <div class="post-date">
                    {{ .PublishDate.Format "2 Jan 2006" }}
                </div>
                <div class="post-summary">
                    {{ .Summary }}
                </div>
            </li>
            {{ end }}
        </ul>
    </div>
</div>
{{ partial "footer.html" . }}

The nav.html partial template renders the navigation menu based on the list of pages automatically generated by Hugo, so all that’s needed to add the “blog” menu entry is a few lines in the YAML metadata block in /content/blog/_index.md:

---
title: "Blog"
menu: "main"
weight: 4
---

The final piece is a bit of convenience: the archetypes/default.md provides a skeleton markdown file for a new post:

+++
date = "{{ .Date }}"
publishdate = ""
draft = true
title = "{{ replace .Name "-" " " | title }}"
+++

which automatically populates some of the metadata to begin drafting:

➜ hugo new blog/a-wonderful-blog-post.md
content/blog/a-wonderful-blog-post.md created

➜ cat content/blog/a-wonderful-blog-post.md
+++
date = "2018-10-17T21:09:19-04:00"
publishdate = ""
draft = true
title = "A Wonderful Blog Post"
+++

What

I’m planning to write about research/lab updates, progress on the JuliaStats ecosystem (especially the future of the @formula language for specifying and fitting statistical models from tabular data!), and more mundane personal discoveries, frustrations, and victories while I get my lab going at Rutgers.


  1. The source for this site is hosted on Github, so the morbidly curious can turn back time to 4424a551 and see for themselves

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  2. This process starts around 230507b.

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  3. Starting at 36508bf, reaching something like a finished state around e94589d.

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