Now with added Blogdown!

I was lucky enough to be at rstudio::conf in Orlando a couple of weeks ago where my friend, Tareef, told me that Yihui Xie, Software Engineer at RStudio, had been working on blogdown.

Sadly I missed Yihui’s talk on it, but even from Tareef’s initial description, “RMarkdown and Hugo!”, I knew I’d be interested!

For those that don’t know, Hugo is a static website generator written in Google’s ‘go’ language. A static website generator takes some input files, most often written in markdown and turns them into a really nice set of html pages that are easy and fast to serve to your website’s visitors. This approach has been gaining in popularity in recent years, as a more lightweight alternative to hosting a big blogging platform like Wordpress or similar.

Blogdown is basically a wrapper for Hugo, that allows you to write blog posts either in straight markdown, or RMarkdown and then takes those input files and generates a static website for you. This makes it really simple for the R user to embed code and charts and so on in their posts.

I was using hugo already for this site, but the ability to use it with RMarkdown, immediately set me to work on switching things over and I’m really happy that I did. Hugo’s promise to “make the web fun again” was spot on, and yet blogdown takes this idea and improves on it magnificently.

I’ve transferred everything over from the vanilla hugo site I had before and am actually looking forward to posting more in the future for once! Using blogdown with RMarkdown in the RStudio IDE, really is a great experience. The blogdown docs are pretty light at the moment, and if you’re new to it all, you may find yourself having to lean on the hugo docs for some help, but it’s all pretty straighforward stuff, and shouldn’t take too long to figure out.

I’m probably not done tweaking the layout, and I need to finalise my publishing pipeline, but then I’m all set again. If you’re a blogger and interested in pubslishing a fast and flexible website, you should definitely check out hugo, but if you’re a blogger and an R user, blogdown is the tool for you. Check it out, you wont be dissapointed.