Shukry Zablah


I used to use the Hugo static site generator for my personal site. I wanted to try to use Coleslaw instead. I am currently using Common Lisp for fun, so it makes sense to use Common Lisp tooling if possible. In this post I walk through how I set up my computer, my personal site, automatic deployment with Gitlab CI, and a custom theme.

Setting up my computer

Before getting started with Coleslaw I needed to set up lisp in my computer. I use Doom Emacs as my editor, which has Sly as its Common Lisp mode. I had previously set up an Arch Linux computer by installing and using the SBCL for that distro, but I thought I'd use Roswell instead. The primary reason was ease of use, but also because I wanted to use the same command line tool I would be using in my CI/CD pipeline.

Setting up with Roswell is extremely easy. I followed the instructions in the wiki. It took care of downloading the Quicklisp library manager. I thought about using Qlot to have project local libraries, but it being my first time, learning to use it would have been an unecessary detour.

At this point I installed Coleslaw in the REPL.

Setting up Coleslaw site

Getting started with Coleslaw was okay but not great. The README was pleasant. However, for some reason I ran into a problem when using (coleslaw-cli:preview). I kept getting "Not Found" from the Hunchentoot server. I tried changing to Woo, but it errored out (maybe this issue). For the beginning I had to use python3 -m http.server, but then I found out that the command coleslaw preview (and also coleslaw watch-preview) worked as expected, so I began using that. This was pretty annoying.

Writing a custom theme

Coleslaw has very few themes out of the box, and frankly, they were ugly. The next step was to take away some of the defaults of the generated blog. I figured it would be easiest to start from scratch rather than to try to adopt an existing blog. That way I could build up the features I wanted little by little.

Coleslaw uses closure templates, but I started off with the wrong foot by trying to go directly to their repository for an introduction. Instead I ended up following Coleslaw's own instructions on creating themes.

I ended up with these simple files:


// -*- mode: web -*-
{namespace coleslaw.theme.shukry}

{template base}
<!DOCTYPE html>

        <meta charset="utf-8">
        <meta name="author" content="{$}">
        <meta name="description" content="Personal site of Shukry Zablah">
        <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1">

        <link href= "{$config.domain}/css/style.css" rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" />

            <a href="{$config.domain}">{$config.title}</a> |
            {foreach $link in $config.sitenav}
            {if $link.relative}
            <a href="{$config.domain}/{$link.url}">{$}</a>
            <a href="{$link.url}">{$}</a>
            {if not isLast($link)} {sp}|{sp} {/if}


            <h1> Shukry Zablah </h1>
        <main id="content">
            {$raw |noAutoescape}

            © 2020 - 2021 {$}



// -*- mode: web -*-

{namespace coleslaw.theme.shukry}

{template index}
{foreach $obj in $index.content}
    {$obj.excerpt | noAutoescape}


// -*- mode: web -*-
{namespace coleslaw.theme.shukry}

{template post}
{$post.text | noAutoescape}

So, simple start to a theme. I thought it nice to use some semantic tags in the template.

But the thing that makes it good looking was the style file. I plan to include this in the theme (eventually making a PR to coleslaw).


@import ',400,500';

body {
    margin: 0 auto;
    max-width: 50em;
    padding: 4em 1em;
    font-family: "Roboto", "Helvetica", "Arial", sans-serif;
    line-height: 1.5;
    color: #566b78;

h1,h2,strong {
    color: #333;

h2 {
    margin-top: 1em;
    padding-top: 1em;

code, pre {
    background: #f5f7f9;
    border-bottom: 1px solid #d8dee9;
    color: #a7adba;

code {
    padding: 2px 4px;
    vertical-align: text-bottom;

pre {
    padding: 1em;
    border-left: 2px solid #69c;

a {
    color: #e81c4f;

header h1 {
    font-size: 2.5em;
    font-weight: 300;

I disabled most of the plugins, changed the default sitenav, and selected my theme.

Writing a pipeline

The last part of this post will be about the pipeline that I set up. I remembered from a few months ago I had created a Dockerfile with roswell, but that was mostly an exercise. I know that fukamachi has some Dockerfiles at, so I used one of those. I started with using fukamachi/roswell and was annoyed that it installed sbcl when it started. Then I realized I was being silly, and used fukamachi/sbcl, which takes care of that. However, I was running into problems, which I solved by overriding the entrypoint of the docker image.


  name: fukamachi/sbcl:2.0.9-debian
  entrypoint: [""]

    - apt-get update
    - apt-get --yes install rsync
    - ros install coleslaw-cli
    - coleslaw stage
      - public

This small file will get things set up with gitlab pages.


Coleslaw was more fun to work with than Hugo, probably because it was in Common Lisp and I enjoyed reading into its source. I hope to contribute a more fleshed out theme as a PR soon, and I would like to have a netlify plugin for deployment if possible as another separate PR.

I ran into problems with the preview server, but that was solved. I ran into problems with the entrypoint, but that was also easily solved. I did run into issues using the pygments plugin. Overall, a good experience though.

I didn't speak much about the actual blog writing. You can use markdown or html (and with a plugin you can use another thing I think).