How We Made the New RookieOven Website

September 02, 2018
Michael Hayes
Michael Hayes

Co-Founder of RookieOven and Add Jam

This is the fresh new 2018 edition of In my last post, I talked about ‘why’ we had built a new site and some of our thinking behind the structure. But I also think its interesting ‘how’ we got here.

The Legacy

RookieOven started out life in 2011 as a Wordpress website. I was a student at the time and Wordpress was the easiest and most cost-effective way to get a blog going. That’s what RookieOven was, it was just me writing about experiences in Scottish tech.

The site was redeveloped in 2015 when we opened the coworking space in Govan and one thing was clear - it wouldn't be built in Wordpress again. I used the Jekyll, the static site generator. My thinking was something without a server underneath would be easier to host, less management and we could still benefit from an easy to manage website.

A static site ran out of steam for us and caused some problems. Starting with the problems; by using Jekyll I figured we could use GitHub as a sort of CMS. Contributors could do pull requests, the site could be improved by the community and anyone interested could reuse the site for free. The reality was it was just too cumbersome, our number of guest posts fell and there wasn’t the interest within the community in working on building the site. The value of community contributions is in the content, not the build.

Jekyll also ran out of steam, as we added parts to what we do such as the job board and the academy, the site became a limiting factor and that forced us into this ground-up rewrite.

The New Stack

The site is made up of three key elements:

  • A Rails app for serving pages and features such as the job board
  • The Prismic CMS for content creation, editing and general site management
  • Startup Framework for design

Why Rails? Development speed. I doubt RookieOven will ever hit a point where we encounter scaling issues through Rails or we have more than our core team working on the code base so Rails was an easy choice. There’s a stack of gems out there we can rely on (like a Prismic API Client) that made development much faster than alternatives (looking at you Wordpress).

Prismic is our CMS. It’s both powerful and easy to use. It allows us to update content with ease, have site previews, editorial workflows and it gives us the power to implement a simple page builder which has given flexibility for any new endeavours RookieOven might enter into.

The last piece of the puzzle was Startup Framework from DesignModo. Startup Framework is an easy to use CSS framework for landing pages and with their slices and generator, it made it very quick for us to iterate and plan out the website structure.

The Future

This marks the third major redevelopment of the RookieOven website. The first version lasted from 2011-2015 and the second 2015-2018. I hope this new codebase will last at least as long.

The flexibility and power of our stack and the tools we’ve chosen should hopefully put us in good stead going forward.

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