A New Look For API Evangelist

I was trying to fit some new content into my website, and I couldn't make it fit within the layout. Then I remembered I had also taken off a section of my work because it looked like crap on my iPad a couple weeks back. It is a sign I've outgrown the current layout of my website when I can't publish my new work, as well as be an adequate archive for my historical research. Thankfully, my website is a pretty modular Jekyll implementation, so once I found the right look, it was only a couple hours worth of work to give it a full overhaul.

The new look and feel for API Evangelist remind me of the original look for the site back in the day, but with a more modern touch. It's responsive and has one of those little icon menus that follow you as your scroll. Something that bothered me at first, but has grown on me a little bit. While my old site was responsive, over the last couple years I managed to screw a few things up as I worked to make it fit all my crazy ideas. This new layout feels bigger, with much more sensible information architecture--something I'm hoping will accommodate what I'm looking to do with API Evangelist over the next couple of months.

The overhaul of the UI for API Evangelist also gave me an opportunity to shift how I manage the YAML data across all my research, moving from a MySQL database to Google Sheets. I'm using my evolved approach to using Github, Jekyll, and Google Sheets to deploy new data-driven API research, complete with HTML, YAML, Atom, and JSON output, depending on who I am looking to serve. All my short form content (blog posts) is managed using Jekyll within each repository, and my long form content (guides) are available via PDF--it's a nice marriage between content and data, that jives with my workflow.

This new Google Spreadsheet to YAML approach allows me to easily publish my API lifecycle and API stack research, as well as the partners, products, services, tools, and contact info for this site. Next, I will update the over 70 API lifecycle projects, and the over 50 API stack research projects with the same template. I'm feeling like it is going to make my research much more explorable, for me, and also hopefully for you. I depend on exploring this research when I'm writing my guides or looking to quickly recall things as part of my regular storytelling. Every YAML file in my new approach has an equal JSON API, and sometimes even additional custom designed paths, providing specific representations of data for use in HTML listings and other JavaScript tools I am working on.

I feel like the new look brings out the scope of work across my existing research. I feel like it will also allow me to grow, adding in my industry guides for each of my research areas, while also having room for new things like videos, and other API training material that I am working on. The layout lends itself well to displaying images, video, and other more interactive ways of publishing stories using data, which fits with the path I'm headed down with my storytelling and evangelism. I have to say, making sure my projects are modular and using Jekyll and Github as the core has seriously improved my ability to overhaul a large number of sites, data, and content in a short amount of time.