Entertaining Static Site Generators

There are two static site generators that have caught my imagination: Jekyll and Hugo. Jekyll keeps getting better and can be hosted on GitHub Pages. GitHub made Jekyll. Hugo does well with large sites that need faster build generation of their pages, it’s more customizable for links and widgets, it can check for newly-edited files and generate only them, and the theme can be separated from the code like WordPress. I’ve used WordPress for a long time and I’m passionate about that but lately the idea of self-hosting it weighs heavy on my current budget.

The interest in these two generators came from that latter situation and path for learning Javascript. It’s been on my mind for six months. I would probably host on GitHub Pages for awhile and learn more about Git by using it in the terminal. Currently, I use Desk for distraction-free writing and I’d have to learn Markdown, which is not really hard. Desk can even generate Markdown so maybe it’s not too bad. A small hurdle for me is learning the commands to use to build the site then post it, all through the terminal.

I know there are tools out there for streamlining it but again those require a stronger budget. And most recently, Jekyll built an editor Graphical User Interface (GUI) that can be run locally. I did find at least one Android app to help me post from the mobile device. I know that a Jekyll website can be generated from GitHub but I figure from reading about the process that you need the local build to generate the blog.

WordPress provides the convenience of writing from anywhere with their apps. Jekyll and Hugo don’t have these mobile apps but there are third-party apps that help at a price, some are free. And it seems that you need to have the site stored locally, on a computer, where you have access to the terminal to generate a copy of your entire site and then post it.

The downside of GitHub Pages, if you want to use your domain name unless you know how to configure CloudFlare SSL then you are without HTTPS on your site. And you can’t have password-protected pages because your entire free repository for the website is made public. You could write Javascript to hide a page with a password but any developer could look at your public repository’s files. I’d also need to convert my entire site into a Jekyll or Hugo site to pull in my content or I could build from scratch and manually transfer all content. Looking from the outside, it seems to create an inconvenience. Moving from WordPress to Jekyll or Hugo won’t stop me from wanting to build WordPress themes for future clients.

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

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