reflection || blogdown

Using themes with blogdown: Lesson learned

After almost one year of interruption, I started re-using blogdown again. But instead of writing new content, I had to struggle once again using the sophisticated machinery of Hugo and my academic-theme. With painful experiences, I learned that one has to be cautious with updates to prevent breaking changes. In this post, I will report on my Odyssean experience and — more important — I will suggest guidelines on how to start, explore, and use themes in blogdown.

Finally — after almost one year of interruption — I could reorganize my working responsibilities to spend more time working with blogdown and Hugo.

But (re-)starting blogging using these tools was not easy after such a long period. I did not only forget many procedures but also ran into compatibility problems with the necessary updates. It turned out for me that the R Markdown ecosphere produces not only valuable and powerful tools but is a continuously changing complex still stricken with some fragilities.

After reporting on these difficulties, I will summarize the lessons I learned.

EXPAND to read the full story of my distress
EXPAND to read my conclusion and guidelines

From docdock to academic theme and back again

Update (2019-06-03): As you can see from the footer, this website is using the docdock- and not the academic theme I wrote above. I started with the docdock and abandoned it for reasons I mentioned above. After another year of creative abstinence of blog writing, in May 2019, I fired up the blogdown machinery again. But because of a combination of many updates of Hugo (from 0.27 to 0.55.6!) and the academic theme (from 2.4 to 4.3), I not only ran into a bunch of error messages, but I have also lost track of different breaking changes and couldn’t recover. —😳

So I changed to docdock back, but this time with somewhat more knowledge. Hopefully, my activities were not a circle but a helix movement where I managed some advances. Thinking positively, hopefully, I can stick with this theme in the future. I do not want writing another complaining article next year, addressing the same problems again.

Update (2019-06-07): The reason for my problems mentioned above was an old version of pandoc. I had installed “pandoc-1.19.2-29-jan-2017”, but the latest release of the date of this writing is “pandoc-2.7.2-5-april-2019”. Now I could successfully update Hugo to “v0.55.6” By this occasion I also updated jQuery v2.2.3 to v.3.4.1.

Now there wouldn’t be any reason not to return to the academic theme. But I had worked hard the last week and learned so much about my docdock theme, that I am feeling now very comfortable and will stick with it.

Page created: 2018-07-19 | Last modified: 2019-06-07
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