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Thoughts on Middleman

Feb. 18, 2012

Middleman is pretty awesome, flexible enough to make websites, flexible enough to build blogs. The power really revolves around the fact that it is built using rack techniques. So I get stuff like sprockets and other cool stuff that I get with Rails, but for a static site.

The first thing that I like is how easy it is to start a project. After you initialize and run bundle install all you need to do is run


Then you can start building the site of your dreams. When using the extension called live-reload which will make the client browser reload the webpage for any new change that got added. This will allow me to be in my editor and continuiously edit then save and watch the file get loaded in my browser.

Of the other extensions that I use, I really like the minification settings that come standard. If you want to compress the site or minify all the JS/CSS, you can just change the default configuration and it will all be taken care of.

The cons so far are the clunky layouts and lack of documentation on different ways to setup your layout. From what I found out, you will have a master layout called layout.erb and then all the reset of the layouts are in layouts directory. I feel that all the layouts should be in the same location for better organziation and be a setting that you can set to set the default layout. The documentation for the layouts seem rusty, it seems like I could do things that weren't documented, which is sometimes scary because it coudl become unsupported in future versions. Still need to look at this a little more.

Since it Middleman doesn't assume everything you need to piece together stuff to build your website. AFAIK there is a good community forum, but with every forum any documentation that gets generated in there ends up getting lost or makes it very difficult to find information that you are looking for. What would be really nice would be for a more organizated wiki style documentation, someting similar to how the Archlinux wiki works. I still need to look into this. Flask from the Python community seems to have a nice community, need to see what tools they are using.

So far I love Middleman, it is easy to use, easy to customize, fast, easy to deploy and best of all, based in Ruby. So far I have only taken baby bites at Middleman and hopefully soon I'll be able to take some bigger bites.

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