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About the Stack

the art of simplicity is a puzzle of complexity

Hugo and Tailwind

The simple truth is that software and websites in general are hard work, harder than they should be anyway. Everybody talks about tooling, but what you really need is a couple of good mules leaning into the load.

The author out plowing with his mules, Hugo and Tailwind
The author out plowing with his mules, Hugo and Tailwind

My best mules are Hugo and Tailwind. I’ve spent a lot of hours with my hand on the plow behind ‘em, so I’ll leave it up to you imagine why the one on my left is called “Tailwind”. I’ve tried oats and I’ve tried barley, but it doesn’t seem to make much difference. Call it an occupational hazard.



The homage to Victor Hugo is to say that content is what it is really all about. Few people have leveraged the written word as well as Victor did.

People talk about Hugo as a blazing fast static site builder, (pretty good for an old mule), but it would be more to the point to think of Hugo as the tip of the spear in the serverless world. Just compare Hugo's documentation to that of the popular node stack alternatives; you'll find a deep stocked programmer's toolbox: functions, variables, pipes, and a solid templating system with its roots in Go templates.

Tailwind CSS

Tailwind CSS

You can think of Tailwind along the lines of the quality quills that Victor Hugo was fond of: he didn't like to waste time fiddling with the ink well and the quill, and we should be spending far less time on our styling stack.

Rapidly build modern websites without ever leaving your HTML. Tailwind utility CSS system that bills itself as an API for the design system. Cutting out layers of interpretation between the design system, layouts and implementation is the pathway to a more competitive workflow.

Lunr js

Lunr js

After spending all night up troubleshooting his Solr cluster, Victor Hugo said “Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.”

You'll never have to go traipsing around the internet to scan your site index when everything you need is bundled in the deploy. As the old saying goes: “better and cheaper at home” Static search means that the search index is right there with the content, so searching doesn't involve making a call to a server to resolve simple query. It's fast and convenient, and less expensive to maintain than a remote search service.



Publisher Albert Lacroix was the closest thing Victor Hugo had to Netlify. Getting “Les Miserables” into print was a big job, and you can bet that Victor would have gone with Netlify if he'd had the chance.

Netlify is a remarkably comprehensive collection of devops services packaged up so seamlessly that you might forget they're there. Think of it as “Devops as a Service”, where engineering costs are largely removed as a constraint.

Chimney Stack, Vivid Sydney 2019
A reliable stack depends on a good foundation

A lot of the heavy lifting around here is done by Hugo, Tailwind, Lunr and Netlify.

Being resource constrained is not entirely bad. Money allows us to buy our way up to another context, but sometimes it causes us to skip opportunities for reducing costs, through the systematic elimination of complexity.

When you don’t have the resources, then partnering up with a couple of old mules works out pretty good. While your neighbor is missing the season trying to get his latest Kubernetes model turbo tractor running, Hugo and Tailwind will always be ready to get out there with you, breaking ground and breaking wind.


A Pattern Language — Towns, Buildings, Construction  by Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa, Murray Silverstein, Max Jacobson, Ingrid Fiksdahl-King, Shlomo Angel

Photo Credits

Mr. Whinery cultivating corn. — Pie Town, New Mexico  by Lee, Russell, 1903-1986, photographer

unsplash-logo Jack Bassingthwaighte — "Chimney Stack, Vivid Sydney 2019"

pattern language

Let's agree to define productivity in terms of throughput. We can debate the meaning of productivity in terms of additional measurements of the business value of delivered work, but as Eliyahu Goldratt pointed out in his critique of the Balanced Scorecard, there is a virtue in simplicity. Throughput doesn’t answer all our questions about business value, but it is a sufficient metric for the context of evaluating the relationship of practices with productivity.