One last step

The last missing step before reopening is to add a RSS feed, to allow people to follow updates. The rss package seems to be the main one for generating those with Node. It takes care of rendering the right tags, in the correct structure, which simplifies building the feed a lot.

Unfortunately, Pug won't allow require inside its templates. I'd still want to have a matching file inside the content folder, rather than have a page popping up "magically" from some new plugin.

jstransformer-function allows just what: a template file that runs arbitrary JavaScript code. After installing it, along with rss with npm i jstransformer-function rss, we can add two identical content/feed.xml.function and content/feed--fr.xml.function files. The .function will be stripped by metalsmith-in-place to make them become /feed.xml and /fr/feed.xml respectively.

Inside, we can grab the list of posts similarly to the article list, and feed them to the rss package to do all the hard work. There's only on little bit of date logistics to fix. The rss package would set the lastBuildDate to the current date, rather than the most recent content, which we can update with a regular expression.

Let's not forget to disable the layout, too. We don't want that XML wrapped inside the site's HTML shell.

layout: false
const RSS = require('rss');

const posts = [...(this.groups.byLanguageByType[this.i18n.language]['post'] || [])].sort(function(a, b) {
  return -

const feed = new RSS({
  title: this.siteTitle,
  site_url: this.siteUrl,
  feed_url: `${this.siteUrl}${this.outputUrl}`,
  author: '',
  language: this.i18n.language

posts.forEach(post => {
    title: post.title,
    url: `${this.siteUrl}${post.outputUrl}`,

return feed.xml().replace(/<lastBuildDate>.*<\/lastBuildDate>/, `<lastBuildDate>${posts[0].date.toUTCString()}</lastBuildDate>`);

It's a wrap (for now)!

That was the last feature the site got before being relaunched.

This rebuild certainly gave me a clearer idea of parts that required special attention when internationalising sites (messages, dates, language switching, URLs and file structure). Building with Metalsmith also allowed complete control of the flow for generating the pages (gather content, enhance it with computed data, group/index them, create pages out of them and finally render them). Great for tinkering, maybe not so much for getting stuff out quickly.

Writing about it (afterwards, rather than alongside as planned) was a great way to uncover little things to tweak from the original implementation. The simple design also allowed to present some CSS patterns (adjacent sibling combinator, negative margins, centered column, partial borders) and accessibility (headings, landmarks, skip-links) which are details I care about. The upcoming design will bring much more to talk about in that area.

Hope you enjoyed reading along. If you have any question/comment/whatever, feel free to reach out on Twitter or by email. Future articles will leave the site aside for a bit, the time to give it a nice design so I can talk about its implementation. They won't stop, though, there's more to come (and there's even a RSS feed that'll notify you of new ones ;) ). Stay tuned!