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Every year around October time my website hosting comes up for renewal. It's the same hosting I've had since 2009 when I made the site for university work. Thankfully the Wayback Machine captured some of its earliest moments so I can relive my cringe in the modern day.

Screenshot from 2010 version of

I'd like to say some of the styling has been lost to time, but I can't be sure...

After the last post here I said to myself "Before I write any more posts I'll update the website. It's been a few years and it could do with a lick of paint". That was three years ago. Big yikes. I was going through the files from the last build and most were last updated in 2015. Bigger yikes.

The old setup

The previous site was geared more towards my full stack development role at the time. A one-page HTML website with an overcomplicated PHP setup behind it purely for a contact form. It showed what I did at the time, what I was looking into at that point and a link off for potential employers to tell me what I'd be doing in the future. Functional.

For reasons I forget, the blog was actually hosted over on Github. It was this weird Jekyll setup that I'm fairly sure was never set up correctly, but it happened to build correctly to Github Pages and so I was too afraid to touch it. I don't need to be learning Ruby at my age, thanks.

The process

In short, I wanted off of this aging setup. I'd become fully focused on the front end by this point and React was the new hotness. I knew React and there was no shortage of frameworks that worked with it that meant I could build the site out how I wanted.

Different branches showing different versions

That's partly the reason why it took so long. I'd try out a framework, learn enough to get by and start building out the new site with it. But then my time would be taken up elsewhere and I'd come back to the build having pretty much forgotten everything. So I'd read around why I'd done what I'd done previously, not touch it for a while. The cycle repeats.

Design has never been a strength either. I have these grand plans of this fancy website using the latest features to add some ✨sparkle✨ in the hopes of attracting a passing recruiter. I'd get so caught up in something like the naming conventions of the custom properties that I'd grow bored of the design and not want to touch it. Next time I came back, I'd start afresh. The cycle repeats.

The new setup

That's how we got here. It's almost October again. The hosting is up for renewal. Every October I'd have nothing ready, begrudgingly buy myself another 12 month reprieve, and repeat the cycle until next October.

I had this hang up about a big-bang release. It had to be perfect to show all this time was worth it. The problem is I had no end goal, so I would never be done.

Without a functioning redesign I decided to just get on with it. An incomplete website is better than one that still described me as a C# developer. Hopefully I can stop getting recruiters for that now. It's far from done and is just about functional but crucially it's over the line. It can be worked on in the future.

This most recent iteration is built in Next and hosted on Vercel. It uses dynamic routes, CSS modules and TypeScript. And crucially no PHP.

Next steps

Right now I'm back where I was in 2010. I have a website that's more of a placeholder and looks like someone's over-engineered the default Wordpress template. But it's all a process.

Although looking back on it now, was a one page HTML website all so bad? No build step, no bundle to download and it loads super fast. Next is doing its hardest to get back to that point but it's never going to be as simple as index.html. But it's all a learning experience.

My goal for this blog was to show the learnings over a career in software development. I was keen to preserve my old blog posts here as much as I was moving to Jekyll previously. You can navigate all the way back to my first ever post if you wanted to.

Hopefully this post will just be another one in the list. One few people read. But it's important to me. It's development - in all senses - out in the open again. I hope it's the first of many more to come.

But now I've done it I'll say I'll add a proper landing page or tweak some styles and in reality this will be the last post for another three years. Lets just hope not 🤞