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The Evolution of SoCalTechLab.com: A Tale of Tech, Choices, and Growth

published - |written by Joe Peterson
Astro and SCTL - a match built in Bun

Astro and SCTL - a match built in Bun

Ah, the ever-changing landscape of technology! It's a realm where the only constant is change, and that's precisely the story of SoCalTechLab.com. Initially conceived as a sandbox for my client projects, this domain has undergone a metamorphosis. Last February, the light bulb flicked on: Why not turn this into a treasure trove of insights on Large Language Models (LLM)?

The blog was to be my digital canvas, a space to dissect complex LLM concepts and serve them up in bite-sized, relatable chunks. While the initial focus was laser-sharp, let's just say the laser has since broadened its beam. The blog has evolved into my personal tech playground—a space to muse, explore, and, if the stars align, enlighten you, dear reader.

The Quest for the Perfect Static Site Generator

When I first dipped my toes into the blogging waters, my wishlist was straightforward: speed, simplicity, and zero fuss. I was gunning for a static site, a lean, mean HTML machine, as opposed to the behemoth that is WordPress. I scoured the digital shelves for the perfect Static Site Generator (SSG), sifting through the likes of Astro, Eleventy, Gatsby, and more. After a meticulous vetting process, I hitched my wagon to Squido, a nifty Node.js-based SSG. Kudos to Mark Moffat for his stellar work on Squido (check it out here).

Squido was a dream come true, but let's be real—no riverboat is built for oceanic voyages. If I wanted to morph my blog into a full-fledged platform, I needed a more versatile framework. But hey, versatility shouldn't mean bloat, right? I wasn't about to saddle my site with WordPress-levels of unnecessary code.

Astro vs. Eleventy: The Showdown

In my quest for the ultimate SSG, two names kept popping up: Astro and Eleventy. Both are robust, mature, and have their unique selling points. Astro shines when you're looking to hook your blog up to a Content Management System (CMS), which was on my upgrade radar. Eleventy, on the other hand, is the epitome of simplicity and flexibility. After weighing the pros and cons, Astro emerged as the champion, perfectly aligned with my project's evolving needs.

The CMS Conundrum

Until recently, my blog was a GitHub repository filled with markdown files and images. While charmingly simple, this setup was far from scalable. I flirted with the idea of a headless WordPress but eventually decided to broaden my horizons. Ghost and Contentful were the final contenders, and Contentful snagged the crown. Integrating it with Astro was a learning curve, but hey, who doesn't love a good challenge? Plus, I'm on Contentful's free tier, so any gripes I have are, quite literally, a non-issue. Hats off to Contentful!

You might be scratching your head, thinking, "CMS? I thought we were talking static sites?" Ah, the beauty of Astro! It comes with a build step that turns all that dynamic CMS content into static HTML pages. The first time I saw my CMS content transformed into static pages, it was nothing short of digital alchemy. This setup ensures lightning-fast load times, offering you, the user, a seamless browsing experience.

The Next Chapter Begins: Embracing Growth, Possibilities, and a Dynamic Static Site

The journey of SoCalTechLab.com has been a rollercoaster through the ever-evolving world of technology. While Squido was a fantastic starting point, the need for growth and scalability led me to Astro and Contentful. This dynamic duo offers the perfect blend of features, extensibility, and performance, setting the stage for the blog's next chapter. So here's to new beginnings, endless possibilities, and a static site that's anything but static!

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