I recently had the need for a small website when listing my condo for sale by owner (moving to Myrtle Beach, SC – thats another blog post itself, as is doing FSBO and forgoing a realtor). Having recently been using Jekyll and markdown to create websites, like this one, I figured I’d give Spinto a try and see how the experience compares.
First, some quick background on Spinto:
- It leverages Jekyll and stores changes to git, re-running jekyll on the content. This is very similar to the existing github pages model of building websites.
- The difference is that Spinto integrates the Mercury editor for a pleasant web-based WYSYWIG experience. Should you ever need to do more than the editor can handle, you just git clone your repo, make your changes, and when you push jekyll auto-runs on the changes, and you get a new site.
- Supports custom-domains too.
- Released into beta just a few months ago by Matt Beale
So how did it go? Great! I created only two pages, and used a custom domain:
I did have a minor issue when trying to create other pages in a different spinto project when I was experimenting in preparation for this one, but Matt was responsive via email and it turned out that the bug affected only that project, and Matt has since fixed the issue.
The experience using spinto and Mercury was quite pleasant though, and made for quick and easy edits of page content. I was able to create a wonderful looking site in just a few hours, and quickly add to it throughout the week as I brought more content online.
This post was actually inspired by a project I saw mentioned on Hacker News this morning called PageBlox which I could imagine being combined with Spinto to make for an even better WYSIWYG experience.
Some improvements I can recommend to Matt:
- I couldn’t figure out how to make the editor not close a paragraph tag when I hit enter, and instead do a break which affected my spacing
- Since you’re just interacting with the git repo, it’d be great to offer an option through the website to upload media into the repo, which could then be referenced from the image and link add boxes. It was slightly annoying to have to exit the editor, git pull, put my media in the repo, commit, push, re-open the editor, and continue by inserting or linking to some content. I ended up using dropbox to host some of my files and link to instead just so I broke that long cycle.
- Provide some simple CSS styling ability – even if you make me type raw CSS into a webUI, it’d be something that keeps the process on the website and doesn’t make me leave for the command-line.
- I’d love to see support for outside repos, much like one would do with a heroku project also hosted in github, but with support on spinto’s side. This way I could leverage spinto for use with this blog, or other github-pages sites!
Overall, once you do the initial design and layout work for yourself or anothers site, I can see this being a wonderfully powerful tool to bring simple website creation and editing in-line with current git-managed website management.
I recommend you give it a try for your next small website project!
My first open house this past Sunday was a smashing success (over 50 visitors in 2 hours!), offers are rolling in today, and it was painless to update the site last night with the flyer I used for the open house. I received a number of compliments on the website and photos, and overall I’m not sure I could’ve done it much better or faster any other way!