In one of our blog posts, we talked about the emergence of the JAMstack as one of the more hyped technologies in 2019. Here’s the definition we gave for the JAMstack:
Static site generators are especially useful for coders who love to extend and build but who don’t have the time to do it from scratch. These frameworks offer a solid bedrock of templates and plugins that you can work off to tailor your blog to your liking. At the same time, other site generators offer a more casual approach to non coders as well. Below, we’ve listed the 7 most popular site generators in use today.
Jekyll is one of the more popular site generators for rubyists. In large part due to its close ties with GitHub. The generator itself is written in Ruby and allows one to start up a blog with a few simple commands. The beauty with the site generator is that due to its affiliation with GitHub, you can host your Jekyll site on GitHub Pages for free. The docs are also easy to follow. Any question about setup is explained thoroughly.
Hugo claims to be one of the fastest static site generators out there with build times clocking at less than a second. Hugo also “supports unlimited content types, taxonomies, menus, dynamic API-driven content, and more, all without plugins.” One of the more interesting aspects of Hugo is its 300+ library of demo-ready themes integrated in the website. As opposed to Jekyll, Hugo is more friendly towards casual developers who simply want a nice looking front end. The docs are solid, though definitely not the best of all the site generators listed here.
Due to its heavy reliance on React, the learning curve can be a bit steeper than most other static site generators. Still, the docs serve as a mini tutorial to get you up and running.
The best way to explain Octopress is to qoute the developer of Octopress himself:
“…Octopress is basically some guy’s Jekyll blog you can fork and modify…Octopress is released as a single product, but it’s a collection of plugins and configurations which are hard to disentangle.”
Brandon Mathis would like you to assume that Jekyll and Octopress are practically the same thing. What Octopress boasts is a refined approach to Jekyll blogging. Octopress sets a standard for how themes should look and provides an ecosystem of plugins to enhance the blogging experience. The companion site generator is truly a hacker’s framework.
Hexo is a bare bones static site generator that receives markdown and generates static files. The framework is built atop Node.js, which allows for faster generating speed. The great thing about this framework is its compatibility with Octopress. Most Octopress plugins can be used with Hexo. The easy-to-follow docs speaks to the simplicity of this powerful framework.
Harp’s stand out feature is built-in preprocessing, which automatically preprocesses code before serving it to the browser. Harp’s built-in preprocessors include Markdown, Jade, EJS, LESS, Stylus, Sass, and CoffeeScript. You can jump straight into CSS because Harp serves that up automatically as well. Harp’s documentation can be improved upon. The videos are unavailable, the outline can be a bit hard to read at times, and troubleshooting info is sparse.
Out of all of the site generators listed here, Pelican doesn’t exactly visually impress. The site uses an extremely bare theme. The site generator itself is geared towards Python users. What truly sets this static site generator apart is its extensive documentation. The organization is impeccable and sets out to answer any question a beginner may have when setting up a static site. If you just want a simple blog presence on the internet, Pelican helps you accomplish your task.