Why did I decide to redesign my web page? Because I realised that:
- I was being put off releasing code because adding it to my website was a pain to add to
- I wanted tags
- The number of projects had exceeded the vertical space in some browsers
- I wanted better cross-site linking - for example all downloads should appear on one place
The site was previously written in PHP as that is the language supported on the server, but I don't know PHP, and from what I do know, I hate it. The solution was obviously to rewrite the site using Haskell - but how.
I initially looked towards a web framework, but given I can't install anything on the server, that makes it a bit hard. The next choice was to write a preprocessor that takes the source code and generates the end result HTML. This was what I decided to do.
I now write each page in HTML, but in a modified form of HTML. For example, the code for the Catch page is at: http://www-users.cs.york.ac.uk/~ndm/catch/catch.html - do view source to see the original. The start is a list of properties, which include tagging information, slides/papers etc and names. The rest of the document is simply the content.
The preprocessor the gives an appropriate beginning and end to each document, fills in some magic tags I have defined, and outputs a complete document. All slides/tags etc are collated and placed in central files - for example http://www-users.cs.york.ac.uk/~ndm/downloads/
The code weighs in at 350 lines, and can be found at http://www-users.cs.york.ac.uk/~ndm/Main.hs - its overly long and could do with some proper abstraction being applied - I just hacked it together as required. However, its fairly simple and generates a nice result without too much effort. Adding a new page is now as simple as creating a new file, and all the indexes are automatically maintained.
I am not sure if this approach will suit everyone, or even if it will suit anyone but me, but I think this is a very nice way to create a site which is easily extendable and very consistent, while keeping the overhead on each page down.
I am sure there is a common tool underlying this, just waiting to get out, but unless anyone else expresses an interest in this approach, the tool will remain buried in my specific needs.