Image credit: Mikey Harper

New blogdown website

After experimenting with several website/blog managers operable with Github Pages, it looks like Blogdown will be the winner. I really like the idea of maintaining a personal technical blog out of RStudio, as it feels a lot more like writing up technical reports with all the usual tools that RStudio affords (knitr cells, LaTeX, git, etc). The use of Hugo for theme management also looks like a good choice, and as such I’ve decided to go with the very snazzy looking Academic theme. Setup has been a breeze, for both Blogdown and the Academic theme; much simpler than the Jekyl based sites I’ve used in the past.

One of the coolest features here is being able to embed LaTeX directly in my posts. Check it out…

$$\sum_{i=1}^{n}\left( \frac{X_i}{Y_i} \right)$$

Another benefit of writing posts in Markdown is that I can draft ideas Dropbox Paper, which I’ve been increasingly using for note taking and which easily exports to Markdown. This is especially useful when I don’t actually have RStudio immediately accessible; for example, if I’m on a different computer or even just typing away notes on my phone.

As a test, everything below this line was drafted in Paper:


Drafting markdown blog posts with Dropbox Paper

This is a quick experiment in using Dropbox Paper to draft markdown destined for blog posts, documentation, reports, etc. This paragraph serves as a simple test of basic test.

Next let’s include a link to https://pages.github.com/, or better yet as Github Pages.

Next, let’s embed an image:

blogdown

The image seems to be taking awhile to upload.

Other things to try:

  • Bulleted lists (check!)
  • Highlighters
  • Quote blocks
  • Code blocks
  • Tables

This text will be highlighted. (note - this didn’t work)

And I quote.

And I code.
Field A Field B
123 456
ABC DEF

Aside from the highlighter, everything else translated pretty well from Paper to Markdown. Using the nifty table editor in Paper alone is a huge convenience (because who likes making tables in Markdown??). Check it out…

screenshot1

The Markdown feature only scratches the surface of what one can do with Blogdown. The ability to write posts as RMarkdown documents really bridges the gap between generating content and publishing content for a digital lab notebook. The expanding scope of Knitr also means that those of us who are ambidextrous with respect to R and Python can incorporate both, as well as Knitr chunks for SQL, Bash and even Stan.

I will be gradually porting over content from previous sites over the next couple months, as well as exploring deployment options. While I’m perfectly comfortable and satisfied with the combination of Github Pages + Travis CI, the authors of Blogdown strongly advocate deployment via a service called Netlify, which so far has been an incredibly pleasant experience for me.