It’s been a while since I last wrote anything here but I’ve been busy busy.  As you’ll have noticed I have migrated my blog from the old University servers to my own website which has also been revamped! I’m always shocked at how easy WordPress is to use, tweak and maintain. Good job WordPress.

Suddenly remembers the hours I spent trawling through WordPress trying to change a font. Oh well, it’s still great.

I’ve been teaching myself a whole bunch of new skills. I’ve fallen in love with CSS pre-processors and lots of time has been spent in Ubuntu learning how to use github, ruby, guard, the LAMP stack, Sublime and bash. Eventually I opted not to use Ubuntu because I am a big pansy and the command line interface is a little too intimidating without knowing someone who can help me out. I gave up on Ubuntu when I had to learn how to use Github; I kept making entirely new repositories and couldn’t work out how to roll back to previous versions. The Windows Github GUI is brilliant and too easy to use to pass up.

Sublime is beautiful in Ubuntu but I really dislike it in Windows. One thing I am going to return to Linux for is practicing PHP because the LAMP stack is incredible! So easy to install and use. I had to work out how to use Guard-livereload and SASS with Ruby which was a bit of a pain but rewarding when it actually worked. After repeatedly typing out all the commands to start all that up, I eventually decided to automate it so I wrote a short bash script and now I’m ready to develop at a moment’s notice.

Then I threw that all out and decided to use Windows instead. I bought Compass which is a handy little utility that writes your SCSS to CSS. It also has a bunch of other features and libraries which I’d strongly recommend having a look at. On top of that I’m using Brackets which has been updated so much lately and now has it’s first full release! There are so many deprecated plugins for Brackets which I wish still worked. At one time, Brackets had a code mini-map like Sublime and responsive features that made media queries super easy. If ever I feel that competent, I might even have a crack at making them compatible with new Brackets.

The most important thing to me is simplicity and rather than use ruby, guard, live reload, sublime and a plethora of other things, I can simplify it down to Brackets and Compass. They’re a perfect match.

A Swanky New Website

Having made my website around 4 years ago, I decided to create something a little more contemporary and professional because my old site was a little “zany” and I’m not convinced it was particularly easy to use. When I made it, it was mostly just to see whether I could and a large portion of it was experimental.

Old Site
Old Site – a bit too much face.

The new look was made in a bit of a hurry and I could have spent longer planning it, but as I have said, very busy. I did learn about some lovely JQuery libraries such as Magnific. It creates a nice little fade that opens up a div with the background faded out. I used it to make an entry for each item of my portfolio. I know that the JQuery probably isn’t necessary and I know that it could cause compatibility issues but I’m learning and I like it so I stick my tongue out at you CSS purist. The effect is hard to explain but as long as you’ve got a relatively new browser, you can go and have a look for yourself.

Portfolio screenshot
Portfolio screenshot

I do fear that in aiming for something more professional, I have created something that comes across as anodyne and boring but I’m considering it as a work in progress and I’ll definitely be tweaking it in the future.

Podcast! (Working Title)

Next time, I’ll be talking less about boring software and more about my new project, Podcast! I’ve wanted a podcast web app for a long time and the only thing I can find that comes close is Stitcher and I am not a fan of Stitcher.

Read more from Struan Fraser at http://www.struanfraser.co.uk/blog