by Cesare Rocchi

Hunting for a Static Site Generator

by Cesare Rocchi

Tags: blogging

Last week, pretty much in a hurry, I had to setup a blog for Podrover. I wanted to host it on AWS S3, where also the landing page is hosted. Why? To keep it very simple. I am sure that if I had used Wordpress or Tumblr I’d have started toying with themes, layouts and plugins. So I forced myself in a corner again and decided for a static site generator.

This blog that you are reading runs on Octopress and I am pretty happy with it. I just wanted to explore if there was something new under the sun. There are two cool websites that list static sites generators: https://www.staticgen.com and https://staticsitegenerators.net. Good luck if you are in a hurry, the lists are pretty long :) Another key feature I was looking for is a very simple starter theme to tweak. In particular I wanted to avoid endless lists of Compass, Less, Sass files to wander through. Remember, I was in a hurry :) It took me more than a day to tweak this blog, and I didn’t want to end up in the same situation.

I tried Jekill, it does exactly what I needed but it is too simple, in that it comes with no built in theme. That means you have to start from scratch. Then I remembered of Cactus. I checked the Github repo and it looks like it’s still under development. It comes with a simple and clean default example, which includes and index page, a template for posts and most importantly a single CSS file! Exactly what I needed. So I added the logo, customized the font, tweaked a bit the footer and here is the new Podrover blog.

Honestly this setup is still not ideal because once I am done writing I need to upload the new files to S3. The Cactus Mac app does not work with S3 at the moment. My ideal setup would include the following features all in one app:

  • a minimal Markdown editor
  • that generates html pages
  • that I can upload to S3

There’s plenty of minimal editors out there, but as far as I know none is hooked up with S3. If you know of one let me know on Twitter.

PS: Once I was almost done with the blog I realized I could have achieved the same result with Github pages. I’ll give it a spin next time. But the issue of combining a cool markdown editor with git commit and git push commands still stands :)