J.Kirchartz Web Yinzer

Unix as a CMS

Recently I’ve discovered the tildeverse, a loose federation of *nix servers inpired by tilde.club offering a shell account where you can host a site, play games, and participate in a community of like-minded individuals (you know, the sort who think having a unix account would be fun.) This article will show a method to create these pages more efficiently.

As tradition dictates, these sites are usually hand-written html hosted in the ~/public_html directory nested inside your home directory (for which ~ is a shortcut) this site is then accessible at <domain>.<tld>/~<username>, which all together explains the “tilde” in tildeverse.

Handcoding HTML is fun, but if you’d like to make a bunch of pages without worrying about markup, markdown is one of the plain-text formats you might choose. Rendering markdown can be done with pure bash, but pandoc is more powerful - it may not be available on all systems, but the beauty of the tildeverse if you can ask your admin to install it and they probably will.

Make is a program that reads a Makefile and follows its instructions to compile code, this may be C/C++, but here I will be using it to read a directory of markdown files and generate HTML. There are a few different versions, but here I will assume Gnu Make is installed. In the below script I set the shell, use wildcard to find all markdown files, subst and patsubst to generate a list of html files to generate, and finally an all directive to put the outputs together. Running make at the command line will take each md file process it with pandoc and create a html file, this is then moved to the appropriate public_html directory (which we will assume is one directory higher than where you keep your unpublished markdown files.) If you’re using vim as your text editor the command :make can also be used.

It is possible to tell pandoc to include certain CSS files, but providing your own template will give more control and IMHO make customization easier.

Pandoc will also apply certain metadata provided in YAML frontmatter in a markdown file, and place it as defined in the above layout. None of these options are required, but show how flexible this system is.

author: <Your Name>
author-meta: <Your Name>
title: <Document Title>
subtitle: <Document Subtitle>
lang: <document language attibute for html tag>
date: <Todays Date>
date-meta: <Todays Date>
- <keyword 1>
- <keyword 2>
- <etc>
- <path to css 1>
- <etc>
- <copyright notice>
- <script tags>
- <etc>

View this post on tilde.town