Discovering Static Site Generators

Published on Saturday, July 15, 2017

Let me start with a confession: I only discovered Static Site Generators about six months ago, when a friend introduced me to Jekyll. As a veteran web developer with experience working in Content Management Systems of all shapes and sizes (hell, I think I'm one of the three people who actually tried to beat ez Publish into shape), it seemed like a revelation. A tool that let me focus on writing, and have it handle all the grunt work, and the final output would be a collection of plain HTML pages with no complicated server backend? Sign me up! Why didn't anyone tell me about this sooner?

I dove right in, trying it out and seeing what it could do for me. Everything seemed promising at first; I had my first Jekyll site up in just a few minutes on my Mac, and I set to work on the tutorials, learning how to customise it to my needs. The problems started when I looked ito deploying my new blog to the Web. You see, Jekyll is a Ruby application, and I wanted to set up a continuous-integration deployment on Azure. Why Azure? Because I'm a dot-net guy, so it's the obvious choice. Plus I gets tons of Azure credits every month.

To make a long story short, I never got Jekyll working on Azure. I know plenty of others have, and some have set up a CI pipeline for it. But after a frustrating day of reading tutorials and guides about it, I failed.

Enter Wyam. This static site generator is written in .net--right up my alley. And glancing over the documentation revealed an architecture that enables massive flexibility and power for anyone who takes the time to dig into it, while providing enough functionality out of the box to let me get started quickly. It took just an hour to set up a nice CI pipeline using Visual Studio Team Services and deploying it to Azure.

And here it is. My shiny new blog. It looks great, but more importantly, it's incredibly easy to keep updated. Which means I am more likely to do that, more often.

If you haven't caught the static site generator religion yet, I strongly recommend that you give it a try.