What happens when I finish a Frontend Mentor Challenge (or how I build and deploy an 11ty site)

5 minute read

I've been doing challenges from Frontend Mentor as a means to practice frontend web development. Specifically working with plain HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

Rather than just take the simple route of a Git repo per challenge, I put them all in a single repo that is pushed to two[1] servers (Github and a Gitea instance).

The repo is actually a website built with 11ty and Nunjucks for templating. The challenges, and other pages I build are in the projects directory. They are simply copied over to www during the build.

When I do a git push all, on my server it runs a script that does the 11ty build. On Github I use a Github Action[2] which builds the site and then a separate action that deploys the page. Vercel watches the main branch on Github for updates and does a similar build action and deployment.

That is then deployed to three different places: Github Pages, Vercel, and my own site at rmcg.dev.

Digging a little deeper

The front page of the deployed site acts as a gateway to all of the challenges, for instance this is the newbie section for Frontend Mentor challenges:

Screenshot of the newbie section of the my portfolio website

Each section is generated from a json file I created (src/_data/webprojects.json), where I have the service name, location of an svg file, alt text for it, the difficulty level, then there is an array of challenges in that difficulty level.

"services": [
{
"name": "Frontend Mentor",
"svgSource": "/svgs/frontendmentor.svg",
"svgAltText": "Frontend Mentor Logo",
"description": "Collection of challenges I completed for Frontend Mentor",
"cssClass": "",
"difficulty": [
{
"title": "Junior",
"cssClass": "frontEndMentorChallenges",
"challenges": [
{
"title": "Advice Generator App",
"url": "/FrontendMentor/junior/advice-generator-app/",
"description": "",
"techUsed": [
"html5",
"css3",
"js"
],
"screenshotURL": "/FrontendMentor/junior/advice-generator-app/screenshots/mobile.png",
"screenshotAltText": "Advice Generator App"
}
]
},

When the 11ty build occurs, it takes two nunjucks snippets then first takes the service section and fills out the details:

{% for service in webprojects.services %}
<div class="projectsDiv {{service.cssClass}}">
<div class="alignedHeader">
<h2 class="projectsSection__title">{{service.name}}</h2>
{% if service.svgSource%}
<img src="{{service.svgSource}}" alt="{{service.svgAltText}}"/>
{% endif %}
</div>
{% if service.description%}
<p>{{service.description}}</p>
{% endif %}

{% for difficultyLevel in service.difficulty %}
{% if difficultyLevel.challenges | length %}
<div class="{{difficultyLevel.cssClass}}">
{% if difficultyLevel.title%}
<h3>{{difficultyLevel.title}} Challenges</h3>
{% endif %}
{% if difficultyLevel.description%}
<p>{{difficultyLevel.description}}</p>
{% endif %}
<div class="projects-grid">
{% for challenge in difficultyLevel.challenges %}
{% set projectContent = challenge %}
{% include "components/project.njk" %}
{% endfor %}
</div>
</div>
{% endif %}
{% endfor %}
</div>
{% endfor %}

If you note the div with class projects-grid, this is where the second nunjucks snippet occurs. It loops through all of the challenges in the json array represented by difficultyLevel.challenges.

Basically I pass in the challenge to the snippet below, and use the contents to fill out the a card with a screenshot of the finished build, a short description, and shields for HTML/CSS and if used JavaScript. When I get to later challenges I'll add in 11ty, Vue or whatever. (I'll probably simplify the code too so it grabs the tech svg based on the name, rather than having if checks ... we'll see.)

{# {% set projectPrefix = project %} #}

{% if projectContent %}
<div class="project-card stacked">
<a href="{{projectContent.url}}">
<img loading="lazy" class="card__img" src="{{projectContent.screenshotURL}}"
alt="{{projectContent.screenshotAltText}}"/>

</a>
<div class="card__content">
<h3 class="card__title">
{{projectContent.title}}
</h3>
{% if projectContent.description | length %}
<p class="card__description">
{{projectContent.description}}
</p>
{% endif %}
<ul class="card__techUsed">
{% for tech in projectContent.techUsed %}
{% if tech === "html5" %}
<li>
<img src="/svgs/html5.svg" alt="HTML5"/>
</li>
{% endif %}
{% if tech === "css3" %}
<li>
<img src="/svgs/css3.svg" alt="CSS3"/>
</li>
{% endif %}
{% if tech === "js" %}
<li>
<img src="/svgs/javascript.svg" alt="JavaScript"/>
</li>
{% endif %}
{% endfor %}
</ul>
</div>
</div>
{% endif %}

The finished build is then copied and published.

Improvements ...

There are improvements I will make at some point, specifically adding optimisation of the images I use. There is little point is downloading a 1440x800px image for the challenge preview when only a small portion of it is shown. I am aware that during the build process you can have 11ty generate more web friendly images at differing sizes.

Final thoughts

First if you want to know more about whats going on, please do ask I'll do my best to answer. Otherwise I've found 11ty incredibly useful for this purpose, and easy to use. So much so that my intent was/is to move the blog from Jekyll to 11ty ... I just haven't gotten to it yet and because I like the Minimal Mistakes theme I use here.

Having a static site where I can quickly add a challenge to the front page without having to repeat html myself is just a such a relief. Especially as the file gets longer and longer :) At this point in time I've finished 17 challenges for Frontend Mentor with 75 ish more to go. There's 1 for Dev Challenges, and 5 for FreeCodeCamp.

NOTE ... There are other project directories that aren't listed on the front page. You can see the code in the projects directory on Github / my gitea instance, and live under others. They are things I've done based of Youtube videos or other videos.

Github build action

My Github 11ty build action

name: Build Eleventy

on:
    push:
        branches:
            - main

jobs:
    build:
        runs-on: ubuntu-latest

        strategy:
            matrix:
                node-version: [17.x]

        steps:
            - uses: actions/checkout@v2

            - name: Use Node.js $
              uses: actions/setup-node@v2
              with:
                  node-version: $

            - name: Install dependencies & build
              run: |
                  npm ci
                  npm run build

            - name: Deploy
              uses: peaceiris/actions-gh-pages@v3.7.3
              with:
                  publish_dir: ./www
                  github_token: $

  1. Because I like redundancy when I can, and I want control of my code. β‡‘οΈŽ

  2. The build action I use is just up above, because apparently I can't have anything below footnotes go figure πŸ€ͺ ... β‡‘οΈŽ

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