New Website for 2022

Posted on April 10, 2022 by Scott French

Hello! Thanks for reading this. Building a new website has been a long time coming. I guess you could think of it as a more serious step in my eventual return to lutherie. I've been away from guitar building in any productive capacity since around 2008. I have worked on some projects since then, but not a lot since 2011. Around 2018 I was in therapy working through a particularly tough time in my life, and going through that process really reawakened the desire to build instruments again. I've made some solid progress since then, learning the CNC and pickup making, but between my own mental illness and outside things like being busy with work and family (then COVID) I'm still struggling.

I'm going to save the whole mental health topic for a full journal entry in the future, but I will say that it has been tough. I wish I could say I fully understand everything and have moved beyond it, but sadly I am still getting stuck fairly regularly. From the bottom of my heart I do want to thank all the people that have continued to show interest in my instruments and cheer me along all these years later.

When I'm finally able to take all the ideas in my head and turn them into a new instrument, I think it will have been worth the wait.

But I digress... back to the new site. In that time since 2018 I have worked on a good amount of stuff that hasn't had a place to live outside of social media. I'm not really comfortable with Instagram being the sole place my progress is being recorded, so I needed a new home to keep everything. I've been working on this site for two months worth or Saturdays and a few long nights, so I'm happy to finally launch it.

New Site Goals
  • A place to put all the new writing and other content... who knows, maybe I'll even make a video at some point. For now I am going to try to add a new Journal entry at least every month.
  • Upgrade the old site layout for a bigger and better view into things. Add a lightbox to image sections, and also in time upgrade the images to higher quality.
  • Consolidate content from previous sources. Over the last 20 years I've watched a lot of platforms come and go as my website has remained a constant. I have writing and images from my original site, my blog, flickr, various forums, and now a bunch of Instagram posts. I'll be expanding a lot of the Instagram writing as I move it over to the new site.
  • Move the massive archive of other gear photos I've taken over the years to this platform. I've owned a number of cool instruments by other builders as well as a ton of amps. I'll be back filling the journal with a lot of old photos. I'm also excited to add more as the world opens up and I'm able to meet with local luthiers again. If you are in the Sierras, Sacramento, or the Bay Area please reach out and say hello.
  • Technical and ease of use improvements as noted below in the Tech Section.

Regarding the new writing for this site, my goal really is to have more regular updates. I've started the site with four new Journal entries, an expanded About page. I have a lot of topics I want to cover, as well as returning to several Instagram topics that received a lot of good interest and feedback. I've also sprinkled in a good amount of old content, but getting it added will take some time. There's a lot to convert over to the new format.

Thank you for reading this far. I'm looking forward to completing new instruments and adding more content to the new site. You can stop reading here unless you are interested in the technical details below.

Tech Section

Can you believe my first website was 18 years old? I built that thing back in 2004 with my old friend, Cody Dingle. That was three years before the launch of the iPhone and four years before Google Chrome. That's a long time in web development years, but I built it using the W3C strict guidelines, so here in 2022 it still rendered just fine in pretty much every browser. The cracks have been showing though as it still rendered as it did back in 2004... very small and with no concept of being "responsive" for today's larger (and smaller mobile) displays.

To keep things simple on this new site I used Bootstrap for the frontend framework and Hugo for the "backend" templating. Everything is pre-rendered locally so you get the benefits of templating and a data driven site with the simplicity of a static site for hosting and releases. This combo is really great for prototyping a site quickly and more or less knowing it will work on most devices. You have to be thoughtful, but you get responsiveness out of the can as well. I can't believe how straightforward things have become over the years, it's impressive. I was also able to easily add a lightbox to my image sections which is something I've wanted for like 15 years... just too many other priorities up until now.

I can quickly add to and update this site without a lot of fuss. Deploying is easy with a single git commit/merge. From there continuous deployment picks up with a pipeline that goes:

Github > CodePipeline > S3 > Cloudfront CDN

To say things have come a long way in the last 20 years is an understatement. On my last site I did everything by hand... slicing up design files, writing all the HTML and CSS into templates, writing all the backend code and creating DBs to store instrument and journal entries, tons of testing on different browsers, etc. Then to release I had to FTP up a bunch of files to a web server that I managed myself... no fun. All these new tools and workflows are a joy! I am very thankful that the ease of use here gives me more time to focus on other things like writing site content and actually making guitars!

Here's hoping this new site lasts as long as the first one!

Thanks for reading this journal entry! Feel free to reach out via email or join the discussion on Instagram.