ashinkarov.github.com

thoughts and observations

Updating My Blog

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Finally I found some time to turn my web-site on the github into personal homepage. I must say that I never liked web technologies, as I always have a feeling that I am digging through an enormous pile of shit when I just need to create a set of nice-looking html pages. Having said that, I put a lot of hope into jekyll and octopress guys as they only produce static htmls on output. One tiny thing that I didn’t consider was that the glorious technology uses ruby as an implementation language.

So what’s wrong with ruby? Honestly speaking I didn’t quite understand yet. May be there’s nothing wrong with it and I just cannot use it properly. However, right now it feels like an overcomplicated technology that cannot function properly. I must admit that I am looking at it through the prism of jekyll, and most of the time it throws exceptions, doing the wrong thing or eating-up my cpu without doing anything useful. Mind you – I am just trying to generate static htmls :)

Anyhow, we shall see later if I am going to change my mind or not. For the time being, let’s look on the bright side. On the bright side, I must say that I managed to configure my bibliography in a reasonable way. The only reasonable way is to generate html from the bibtex. You configure it once, and then you just keep adding entries into the bibliography file.

Conversion from bibtex to html is taken by jecyll-scholar plugin which promised to work perfectly well. As you may guess it didn’t. At least not from the very beginning. It managed to produce html looking exactly as bibtex+latex would produce. It is perfectly fine if you write a paper, but for your web-page you want some more. For instance, you wan to include some links: like a path to the paper to make sure that people can download it, a bibtex entry, to make sure that people can add it in their paper, etc. As it turns out jekyll-scholar didn’t do that, instead people suggested to use jekyll-scholar-extras, which granted most of the missing functionality, but everything was hard-coded. Mind you, I didn’t want to touch ruby at this point.

So I managed to solve generation of additional fields by modifying the style-file I was using (yeah, you need to pick-up a style-file from here which is equivalent to the parameter you pass to bibliography in latex). But then I came across the problem that jekyll-scholar does not preserve original formating of the bibtex, which makes it impossible to generate correct bibtex entry. That was the point when I decided to investigate.

As far as I’ve never seen ruby in my life, it took me some three hours to find the problem and to come-up with a solution which I wasn’t particularly happy about, but at least it worked fine. After that I thought that it would be stupid to keep the changes only for myself, and I decided to notify the author. By the way it’s not that I am so altruistic, I just figured out that whenever I’ll update my ruby packages, my changes will be gone :)

Well, then I notified the author without much of a hope, and to my surprise he was very enthusiastic about the changes I made, he even didn’t consider my way being wrong, which was quite surprising. Then I explained some more details, found out some answers, and got really stuck in fixing jekyll-scholar :) But, I must pay my true respect to Sylvester Keil who was very patient and very active when it came to bug-fixing and implementing new features.

To conclude, I think that the current state of jekyll-scholar is quite satisfying, and assuming that we will finish merging scholar-extras, it would be a very decent and configurable bibtex-html converter. In essence, such moments make you believe that open source movement is not just a brand, it really works and works pretty well.

Finally, if you have any comments or notes, or feature-requests regarding jekyll-scholar, please don’t hesitate to create a github issue or contact an author. Every single contribution helps.

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