A return to the static web
02 Jun 2011
I was recently made aware of Jekyll by @kenrick. Jekyll is a ruby-based static site generator, essentially able to take a variety of template files and to build a flat html file site in return. I read a bunch of recent posts of people moving away from CMSs such as Wordpress to static sites for their blogs, the post by Paul Stamatiou was particularly enlightening. Unlike Paul, my blog is immensely low traffic, and certainly doesn't earn me thousands of dollars in ad revenue, however, I am interested in the perfomance gains of using static sites where the content changes relatively infrequently, and does not have a need of a web based CMS.
Tom Preston-Werner discusses the use of jekyll as a blog tool for hackers, but there is more to the tool than just blogs. It makes an easy framework to template and generate sites on the fly for almost any purpose, and I recently gave it a whirl. I quickly re-implemented one of the sites I administer as a jekyll-built site, using rake to handle builds and deployments. At the same time I also introduced Compass, and sass to the mix, handling CSS behind the scenes - the addition of nesting, inheritance, mixins etc. is really neat for generating css rapidly.
I've only just scratched the surface of what is possible with the technologies mentioned here, but they do offer a compelling solution to rapidly develop flat sites where the full needs of a CMS are not required. I plan to put up a series of further posts about aspects of the above when I have some more time!