Initial Commit

2023-02-19 22:19

In the past I have struggled with long running side projects, mostly because of lack of documenting along the way. Eventually there has just been one too may manual tweaks I didn't note, found on some random page I didn't bookmark. This leads to a lot of friction when I want to keep a handy place to run experiments.

To better set myself up to learn and experiment with new (to me) technologies, I started building a platform that could host most of the things I want to try out.

Along with that platform I needed a place to keep notes so I didn't need to rely completely on commit messages to recall what I was thinking.

I chose a simple journal format that is much more about ensuring my experiments and lessons are properly recorded, rather than a guide or article format.

This first entry will document how I set up the journal itself, and then the following entries will move on to the API platform.

The Goal

I had a few requirements:

  • Hosted on a CDN indpendently of
  • Built with a static site generator
  • All content in Markdown for easy migration to another site generator framework if needed.


Bootstrapping the Journal

After looking through the landscape, I decided to give Astro a try. After all, with my content in Markdown, I'm not to worried about revisiting this decision later.

I chose the smallest starter I could find that met my needs, choosing NoFuss due to its markdown-driven content and use of tailwindcss, and not much else.


The NoFuss starter, small as it was, still had more than what I needed (or was ready to understand).

I already had my first two markdown files written, so my refactoring went along these lines:


  • Add an 'About' mdx page -- this included changing astro.config.tx to find the new page, and turning BlogLayout.astro into the generic MdxLayout.astro
  • Add a generic banner and favicon from open-source icons and images


  • Change all the mountain icons to laptop-2 since it fits the content better
  • Rename Blog->Journal
  • Change every instance of NoFuss and the author, Lance Ross (but thanks for the starter bud!)


  • Remove all images (this is why this first commit has no images folder. It will come back when I have an image to add.)
  • Remove the counter and homepage dummy content (similar to the images folder this also removes the entire content folder for now)
  • Delete the original landing page and have the journal page to be the new landing page

Building and Publishing

After committing my initial project to the repository, I manually deployed it to AWS Amplify with the AWS web console by connecting it to my Git repo and using the auto-detected build settings:

version: 1
        - npm install
        - npm run build
    baseDirectory: /dist
      - '**/*'
      - node_modules/**/*

I had to use npm to build as the amplify builder doesn't have pnpm but that is not a problem.

I also set up my domain root to point at this new deployment. Since Amazon's Route 53 was already managing the hosted zone, it was presented as an option. It was a nice surprise that AWS added the required A record and CNAME to facilitate redirection, and utilized the new records to validate my ownership of the domain.

With the site deploying, and my domain properly redirecting to the amplify deployment with proper TLS verification, my last step was to remove the dummy entry file I added (including from commit history) to bootstrap the deployment, and commit this entry!

What is next?

As I wrap this up I think I can add a few candidates for future projects:

  • In the past I used cloudfront pointing to an s3 bucket to host a static site. If for any reason I do not like Amplify I can make a github action to deploy the s3/cloudfront way. I don't really need the featureset of Amplify. I also don't really like leaving GHA to check on something in the AWS console.
  • My far more experienced UI colleagues have recommended I look into Nuxt

Go back to Journal