I just made a new portfolio site with cactus, a python static site generator. Oh man — the joy! So if you’d like to see all the projects I’ve worked on over the past few years in one handy place, check it out (and read on below the picture for specifics and lessons learned):
Until now, I’ve been using django (basically like Rails) or wordpress (e.g. this blog) for everything I build. I have all manner of shortcuts for both of them, but I it’s still slow to develop compared to other options.
Crazy part? No matter how many blog posts I read (lots), it didn’t click until I shipped something with alternate tools.
Even crazier? It didn’t have to be big. This was a one day project.
Now my head is spinning: what else have I been missing? How many days have I squandered trying to optimize strategy and customer development when I could have cut the project in half with better tech choices!?
This may be boring & trivial, but for the sake of anyone who is starting out, the complete list of tools used for this project was:
- Cactus (site generation & deployment to S3)
- Amazon S3 (hosting)
- Amazon Route 53 (a bit of plumbing required to use a real URL)
- Bootstrap (basic style)
- Normalize.css (more basic style)
- Sublime Text 2 (actually vim, but don’t use that) for writing the code
My next project will probably be stick with cactus while adding Parse, which I’m ashamed to say I still haven’t used.
Dex.io needs a “real” backend, so I’m happy leaning primarily on django for that. But I’m going to look elsewhere for my side projects. And I suspect that the lessons learned with make their way back into the main startup and save me a substantial number of days and weeks.
 4 hours to learn the tech & build the skeleton, 4 hours to tinker with copy & layout, and 1 hour to proof & deploy. Those chunks were admittedly spread over 3 days, but you know what I mean.