Grav Development Part 1: Getting Started


So I've been messing around with Grav for a few days now and believe I'm at a point I can start talking about where I thought I'd hit a wall but ended up finding a pretty easy workaround that made me feel like a bit of an idiot.

Firstly I should point out that Grav's Documentation is more than enough to get anyone going, the important thing is actually reading it and understanding everything. That's going to be the next challenge now I'm over the initial hurdle of getting themes up and running. Chapter 3 is where I've been hanging out most of the time I've been looking into it (when I haven't been just poking around the Admin Panel getting a feel for it). Having a read of the Twig info is actually helping me get my head around how that actually works, and I'm quite keen to see if I can things working for my new personal website how I want them to with what Twig and it's functions is looking like it's capable of.

First things first though, I had to get a theme up and running. So I followed the instructions on this page to get me started. This was where I hit my first hurdle. I could get DevTools installed through the ACP no problem, but how was I going to access the CLI? I could work it in for CMD Prompt to use PHP. Initially I abandoned the idea and just duplicated the Quark theme and started plugging away modifying stuff to my liking. But the more I thought about it the more I knew I wanted to know the whole process. So I came back to it and looked a bit further into it.

This is where the "ending up feeling like an idiot" comes into play. As I'm using Laragon for my local development environment the program comes preconfigured with a terminal emulator called Cmder, Linux/GNU based commands come at me! How I didn't think of that before was beyond me but now we're cooking with gas! Very important to note that the commands still need to be written with php leading the command, so what the documentation says, but with php in front (prepend? Is it prepend as the opposite of append?) to actually make it work. Like this:


λ php bin/gpm install devtools

You'll see in my screengrab below that I had a bit of trial and error before I figured that out. Then I went through the steps described in the documentation to create the new theme:

Test Theme Creation

Everything has come up roses, the new theme works nicely so now I can move on to the HTML and CSS and working out how Twig works with it. Fun times ahead!

CMS Options. An Exploration in Future Development Choices


So I mentioned in my last post about getting a few CMS's together and working on drilling down on seeing how they work and getting into developing for them. I'm happy with my list at this point and think that I'll be looking at the following systems in the following order:

  • Grav - As far as flat-file CMS's go, it was out of Grav or Bolt. Bolt seems nice so given they both use Twig for templating it's highly likely I may look into Bolt at some point in the future as well. I just liked the look of Grav and I'm pretty sure I found it before Bolt so it had the running lead and became first pick.
  • ForkCMS - For something to move into a CMS that isn't Wordpress (which I've excluded from this list because I've got a fairly good idea already for styling and developing for it) I've chosen Fork. It seems like it's straight forward for non-developers to use, which is an important consideration when working with people who just want to be able to build pages or post news without having to jump through hoops or complex interfaces. Some other options here were Concrete5 or ModX. I'd used ModX once before and didn't like it that much at the time, that was quite a few years ago now so it's probably changed a fair bit (or at least my perception on things probably will have). Concrete5 is another option I'd probably look at down the line similar to Bolt/Grav.
  • Typo3 - I'd be a long way off learning this one, but for enterprise-level solutions Typo3 seems like a powerful option. It looks complicated from an administrative standpoint though so I'm guessing this would be more of a personal exploration project, at least initially, before I consider doing anything with it.

So I've got Grav for small-scale websites, ones that may be updated occasionally with new content and pages but not so heavily to require a database or complex ACP. Fork for medium-scale, where a database for managing pages, posts and media would be useful for site admins, but not overly complicated in terms of functionality and permissions to actually use the site. And Typo3 for eventual large-scale projects, the kind that would probably need more than one developer to be honest, which is why it's so far down my list on things to learn.

The advantage is that they all use Twig, so learning that will at least be a transferable skill to the others - short of system-specific elements - to cut down a bit on adapting to the new system.

I'm starting with Grav as I'm looking at using that for my new website. Like I said, Wordpress hasn't been the greatest choice for something so basic. A combination of Grav and this blog should be more than suitable to do everything I need. I thought about starting with Fork, but from a usability standpoint it's very similar to the new system we're going to be using at work so I've got no dramas leaving that for a bit so I don't confuse myself between the two.

In the interim I'm in the market for some new screens so I'm looking at ones that will be good for developing with. I was going to go 1440p so I could get high refresh rates for gaming, but I'm increasingly realising that I do more development than gaming so I'm prepared to sacrifice refresh rate and bump up to 4K for more screen real estate. More on that another time though.

That's all for now, see you in the next one, Scott.

2019 Updates


So. I haven't been very good at keeping a blog up to date. To be honest the Wordpress install wasn't the greatest idea and I don't really like the Gutenberg update so I stopped using it.

I've moved to ChyrpLite for this iteration. It does everything I need it to do. I just need to go back and re-add images to my posts I brought over from the Wordpress site. I'll get around to that eventually because I've got to upload them somewhere first then link to them using markdown rather than adding media to a post like Wordpress. I need to do that before I delete my current website, which I can't do until my new one is finished anyway so I've got a bit of time as that's not a priority project at this time.

So what's going to happen then?

First off you'll notice I haven't styled this at all. I'm not worrying about it until I know for certain I'm actually going to make use of this more than the last few times I've tried. If I keep it up to date I might look into it.

In general though I'll be aiming to use this more to keep a running log of projects I'm working on and occasionally updating on life stuff. I want to get into a habit of keeping a track record of projects because looking through other people's backlogs of projects has been really inspirational for me so if I can add to that and provide inspiration for someone then it makes the project/creative world a better place.

So what are my current projects I might be writing about?

I've got a few things on the go at the moment, some long term stuff but hoping there's also some short turn around items I'd like to look at. Let me give you a quick run down:

  • Landscaping: Our backyard is going through some changes, improving on some changes I made a few years ago. Getting fit without hitting a gym.
  • Old shed teardown: My grandfather built a shed about the time the house was built, it's seen better days so it's coming down (once we get it checked for asbestos)
  • 3D Printing: I've got an Ender 5 I need to start making good use of. I need a better place to run it though because it's noisy.
  • Dioramas: I've seen a lot of Luke Towan's videos on YouTube, feeling inspired to up my scenery game for when I've got the space to make a model railroad again.
  • STATS: I'm still working on this thing, I've got it working to a good level in it's current format but considering shifting either to a PHP MVC framework or even going to a Python-based system. Would mean I either need to learn something like Laravel or just learn Python. Both things I want to do but can't decide which to prioritise.
  • Furniture making: I've always loved making things. My year 12 coffee table still sits proudly in the loungeroom. It's not as solid as it was when I first made it but it's still kicking. I'm planning some bookshelves and desk modifications but have some long term things I'd love to have a go at (some of those have pre-requisites though, like, a workstation needs a decent workshop which I don't have right now).
  • Drawing: I stopped drawing after starting Uni, thought I was pretty good then got there and thought I was not that good. Really all I needed to do was more of it. So I want to do more of it and get better at it again.
  • I also want to learn a couple of different CMS's. So if I end up getting back into development for clients I can vary which CMS I'm using based on the type of project it is. So far my list is down to Typo3, Grav, and something like Fork. We're moving to a platform called Umbraco at work so I might look into that too. So far everything I've picked uses Twig for it's layouts so I'm keen to get my head around that. Wordpress is an obvious addition to that list but I'd like to be in a position where I can offer alternatives for people who may not need the bloat that comes with Wordpress.
  • Minor Edit I also forgot to mention a bunch of projects involving Raspberry Pis and maybe even Arduinos.

I think that's about it for now. Let's see if my track record improves with this one.

Melbourne Polytechnic Graduation 2018

What a fantastic night!

There aren't a lot of words to describe the feeling on Thursday night on the way home. The best I could summarise it as on Instagram was honoured. Not only to have been nominated and awarded the school of Engineering, Design and Construction's Vocational Student of the Year, but to also have received the overall Melbourne Polytechnic Vocational Student of the Year. There was a great field of school winners in both Vocational and Higher Education, and my congratulations goes out to all of them. The interviews we saw on the second night all highlighted their efforts that earned them their awards and I look forward to seeing the video interviews of the other recipients soon.

In the end there were only three of us from the Advanced Diploma at the graduation. Andreana, Lauren and myself. Callum from our Diploma group in 2016 was also there to graduate, and my long time friend Georgina from my University days was also graduating from her Advanced Diploma in Building Design. In the end Andreana and I both had the same thought that we knew more staff than students at the event with the work we do within the institute.

The night wasn't without its hiccups. We'd been instructed on the procedure during the rehearsal for receiving our graduation letters (in our case we got letters as we'd already received our certificates in the mail). There was a bit of a slow burn getting into the rhythm of the process before it became a smooth flow, at one point it actually went the opposite way and resulted in a backlog of graduands waiting to cross the stage. A bit of an error, but nothing that couldn't be resolved with a moment of respite to allow them to flow through before continuing.

There was a mistake with the Student of the Year awards. Though I admit it was one that wasn't really picked up on fully at first. When I received the school award (the non-overall one) I remember looking at it thinking that it probably should have listed the school somewhere on the award as it only had "Outstanding Student of the Year". Uh-oh. I thought to myself. Was this a mistake? When the announcement was made for the overall vocational student of the year I handed the first award to Lauren and made my way to the stage to collect the award and that was the one that had Engineering, Design and Construction written on it. Lauren even asked me when I got back to my seat what the second award had written on it as her and Andreana had also picked up on the wording. So while I didn't know for certain I had a strong feeling the mistake had been made. But that didn't make the overall announcement any less nerve racking as my heart rate reading from my fitbit will tell you...

Other than that though the event went well, it was well organised (as I knew it would be having spent the last month and a bit working with the Marketing team who were organising it even though they wouldn't tell me anything because I was graduating) and though it started a bit later than planned the only other major fault was venue based. As the caterers seemed unaware of the contents of the food (nuts, gluten, and the like) and didn't have a lot of variation.

At the end of the night I attempted to find as many of the other award winners as possible to congratulate them all, there was a lot of people around so it was very difficult to find everyone. I caught up with Georgina after the ceremony, Mark and Chiara (G's sister) had been sitting with mum and dad so finding them was relatively easy. Frank and Joanna (who initially nominated me for the school of EDC award) also found us in the crowd. I believe we were just outside where they were gowned so it probably wasn't hard for them to find us. We made our way downstairs and had an offer for a couple of photos to be taken by Phil (another colleague who was taking photos for the institute of the whole event) with mum and dad in front of an MP banner and the CityWatch representative (the award sponsor for this year) congratulated me again. At that stage we started hearing an announcement that the venue was closing (though it wasn't in the end and I would have liked to stay a bit longer) so we started making our way out, on our way mum was handed a bouquet of flowers by Frances Coppolillo (the CE of the institute) who congratulated both her and dad. That was a special moment to top off a special night.

That's all for this post, until next time!

2018 Update Number Two

Days turned into weeks, weeks into months. I really let this stuff go didn't I? Already falling behind on this thing so that New Years Resolution ain't going well is it? Here's an update on my 2018 so far...

I picked up some more work, I'm now working across two departments at Melbourne Polytechnic. One role as my existing ICT Service Management Officer role. The new role is a junior Website Administrator and Developer within the Marketing and Communications department. That's going well, a lot to take in but I feel like I'm picking it up okay.

Because of the new job I had to move into night classes for the Training and Assessment. That's going... okay. I guess. The delivery of the course isn't something that really gels with me and the assignments are a real pain right now with how many there are and quickly they're all due. Persevering with it though because I still feel like it'll be good to have in the long run.

That did mean I had to give up Tuesday Night Trivia. I have managed to get a night in with my Marketing crew on a Wednesday which was good but I'm missing the regular crew.

I was nominated by my teachers for an award (with a really long title). The School of Engineering, Design and Construction Outstanding Vocational Education and Training Student of the Year Award. I found out a couple of weeks ago that I won the award and am now in the running for Melbourne Polytechnic's overall Outstanding Student of the Year.

I've decided already that I'm not particularly happy with this website layout overall. I'm liking the colour scheme and the overall idea of it but the execution I feel could be a little better. I'll revisit it when I've got some time.

The car hunt is proceeding. At this stage I'm banking on around late May to early June purchase window, hoping to get in on that EoFY sale action. At this stage I'm targeting a 3-5 year old Mazda 3, Maxx or SP25 depending on the price I can get (I'd rather the SP25 if I can get one for a good price, mainly for the 2.5L engine). My only other option would be a damn good price on one of the newer Civics, but they're still pretty new so the prices aren't coming down at this stage looking at comparison models (The VTi-L especially is around 5-6k more than an SP25), my only drawback on that is that they have CVT though, but if the plan is to eventually have everyone driving electric cars then it's something we all have to get used to.

Anyway I think that's enough for now. I'll be back with another post at some point. I am cooking one up that I've had in mind for a little while so we'll see how that goes.

Until next time!

  • Scott.