Hosting a website with GitHub Pages

My website seaheuchin.info is a labor of love for me – it is a work of family history and biography that I researched and started to write up in 2007, but only some months ago did I publish it online as a website.

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Web-publishing is the poor(er) man’s self-publishing, but it does offer some advantages over paper. I can easily update the site with new features, such as photographs and transcriptions of original documents, and also incorporate interactive features like maps and timelines. It’s perfect for a serial procrastinator like me, because I can make something that is mostly done but not yet perfect available as a working version. For example, I’m still working on text boxes to explain the historical background for something mentioned in the main text of the biography – many of them are already up, but for some I have only an outline of what I would like to write.

In this blog post I’ll explain what free tools (“free” in the sense of not paying money for it, not the “free” in Free Software Foundation) I’ve used to build and host the website. I want to show how a hobbyist with modest web skills, like me, can still get things online quickly and painlessly.

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Dropbox no longer serving websites

Update 17 Nov 2016: I’ve now migrated seaheuchin.info to a GitHub-hosted repository. More details on how I set it up in my next post!

It was fun while it lasted. My project website seaheuchin.info was doing something odd when I visited it last week to look something up: instead of rendering the index.html page like it did before, the browser started to download it.

Turns out that Dropbox has stopped supporting this feature. My site is/was simply a shared public link in my Dropbox Public folder, to which I pointed a custom domain name. Previously it was possible to host small websites this way, and they would serve up the HTML properly rendered. However this was ended for Basic accounts last month, and will also end for Pro accounts next year.

So what next? I was planning on migrating to Github Pages anyway, because I wanted to have better tracking of versions and edits. That is planned for my next free weekend, so watch this space! If for any reason you urgently want to read about Seah Eu Chin, just drop me a message by leaving a comment here or emailing me.