Static sites have more fun

Hamilton, Bermuda

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Last week, I spoke about hosting static sites, which I realize may have been putting the cart before the horse if you don’t have a static site to host. Today, I hope to remedy that.

I’m going to start by discussing static site generators. I say start because it may take a couple of issues to cover this topic. This is becoming a hot area and there are a number of very good tools and services in this space.

The following all link to tools, not services. Things that need to be downloaded in some form and run on your computer. They all follow the same basic pattern. They allow you to define templates, and then merge those templates with content and metadata provided in Markdown files. Most, if not all, provide a local server mode which lets you preview the results of editing content files or templates.

What differentiates the various tools in this category are the types of templates used, extensions to what is allowed in your Markdown, as well as extra organizational features supported by metadata like tagging and categories. At the end of it all, you are left with a folder structure full of regular HTML pages which can then be hosted by any of the fine static site hosts I mentioned last week.

And as I mentioned, one of the main benefits of a site of this kind is speed. They also fit into a new kind of development architecture known as JAMstack which promotes the used of these static site along with browser-base JavaScript and APIs, either third party or separately deployed.

Hugo logo or screenshot


I have used Hugo for years and watched it mature into a very full featured static site generator. It’s main claim to fame is speed. It is written in Go and it can blast through thousands of pages in a fraction of a second. My only complaint is that the default Go templates are not the easiest to get used to. Hugo has added a lot of functionality on top of them to make things better, but it has been as source of frustration in the past.

Jekyll logo or screenshot


In the world of static site generators, Jekyll is an old timer. It is written in Ruby, and has a bias towards blogs. It is also the one generator which is available as part of GitHub Pages. It uses the Liquid template language and there are a number of themes and templates available for people to use, some may look quite familiar as they get used a fair bit. You can find links in the Jekyll site resources page.

Hexo logo or screenshot


I guess that hexagonal logos were popular a few years back. In this case, perhaps inspired by the underlying technology; Hexo is based on Node.js. While I normally would recommend a Node.js based tool, I don’t know as much about Hexo and looking at the documentation doesn’t give me as much confidence as the other options listed here. However, it is quite popular, so perhaps I’m mistaken.


Like I said, this is a popular type of tool these days, and there are a number of other options out there, feel free to find one which suits you best.