A blog by Bryn Keller about simplicity - in software design, and in life

Working with Hakyll

WordPress was nice for some time. There were lots of nice themes to choose from, installation was easy, things mostly worked. However, the need to keep updating it with security patches, and the need to keep sifting through comment spam, became tiresome.

I always wish I had time to work on something in Haskell, so I decided to put the need for a new blog platform together with that: I’ve switched to Hakyll, at least for now.

This means I generate the site statically, as HTML pages. This means my site requires very little compute power to run, and it’s even easier for me to administer than the WP site was. It also means I don’t have support for comments, which is sad but saves me lots of time sifting through spam. My contact information is on the contact page, please reach out directly if you have comments. Maybe I’ll add some third-party discussion site pointers at a future date. Let me know if you have opinions about that.

Creating the site was fairly simple and took about a day, and took the following steps:

  • Download and install stack (not cabal). This is the build tool we’ll use to fetch and install hakyll and its dependencies. Stack is now the preferred build tool for Haskell. They have binaries available for lots of platforms.
  • Follow the hakyll installation tutorial, substituting “stack” for “cabal”.

Now you have a (very) bare bones site. I then:

  • Added Bootstrap. I basically copied in the HTML from the template and modified it as needed to make it work with Hakyll.
  • Added RSS and Atom feeds using the snapshots tutorial
  • Changed the landing page to show teasers rather than full articles or just links. The teaser tutorial was very helpful for that. Definitely read this after getting the RSS feeds working, it will make more sense.
  • Other minor things like adding favicons

All in all, quite a bit simpler than I expected. The fact that it was so easy to use stack instead of cabal was a nice surprise along the way. The tutorials for Hakyll are really helpful, though there are some details missing, so be patient.

It turns out not to need as much actual Haskell programming time as I expected, but maybe when I need to make something fancier I’ll get to work on an actual Haskell project.