The Rise of Modern Static Sites Generators
“… of “modern” static site generators”, indeed, for we definitely can't be talking about a travel back in time to the 90's, when the web was populated exclusively with static websites. There was only HTML, so there were only static websites!
But first, let us briefly detail the context that rapidly turned the “buzz” of static site generators into an ever-growing web development trend these days:
- the security factor is the one weighting heavy on all online “players” decision making process these days; dynamic websites, with their vulnerable databases, their user input functionality, authentication and other tempting, yet easy-to-get-hacked features, can't compete with the simpler and easier to safeguard static websites
- speed is another aspect that websites/apps must excel at if they don't want to be left way behind in the “brutal” competition for customers' time (and money), and guess what: static sites are more lightweight, they involve less complicated content/data delivery processes and, implicitly: they load considerably faster
Et voila: SPEED
! These are the two “culprits” responsible for this “migration” of developers and companies operating in the online landcape towards static site generators.
“But what did you mean by modern static site generators
?” you might ask yourself.
Let us detail:
- they're not a glorious “come back” of the old type of static websites of the 90's, but rather an up-to-date alternative to today's dynamic websites
- they've grown into some competitive publishing engines
- being simpler, more lightweight and providing a sort of maintenance-free feel, they appeal to front-end developers who, therefore, gain more time to invest in user interfaces
- the translation process into HTML happens before the upload to the server
And now that you have your answer(s) to the “Why static user generators
?” question, we'll try helping you find the right one to the “Which modern static user generator
?” question, as well!
Here are, in no particular order, 4 of the most popular ones these days:
- Jekyll: has that “zero complexity” feel to it, which makes it the perfect static site generator to start with; basically, it enables you to turn any static website (the content model has been upgraded to go beyond blogs and to power more complex websites, too) into a Jekyll project and, moreover, it can also act as your local site server, as well
- Middleman: built to power more advanced websites than Jekyll (documentation and marketing websites and here we can't skip mentioning Middleman-powered MailChimp) it's designed as a powerful Ruby on Rails-alike technology, but for static websites
- Roots: designed as Node.js-based front-end tools' equivalent for static websites, Roots comes equipped with pre-built support for the Jade templating engine
- Hugo: is growing in popularity at the most rapid rate, compared to the above-mentioned static site generators; written in Go, Hugo is surprisingly fast, temptingly simple to install and to update, as well
What Benefits Can Your Company Reap of a Static Site?
First of all, let's sweep away all the possible confusion and explain how a static site generator actually works: basically it takes content (usually stored in flat files, as compared to the databases that dynamic websites use) and then generates a static website, a structure of static HTML files to be delivered to website visitors. As simple as that!
And now, let's outline some of the advantages for jumping on the “go static” train on your next web project:
- speed: static pages do load a lot faster than those carrying dynamic content and no wonder, for all that the web server has to do is simply return a file (a static one, obviously). Since all these static files are already there, “waiting” on the server to be called upon, once a visitor makes a request, a static website's content loads pretty much... instantly; and where do you add that you (or better put “we”, the team here, at OPTASY) get to optimize your website's source code before launching it, before you and your users get to deploy it
- hassle-free installing and maintenance: as already mentioned, a static website is almost “maintenance-free”; of course that we'd still need to get our hands dirty with all its packages and dependencies upon installation, but that's nothing compared to the “never-ending” struggle of installing and then maintaining the entire infrastructure of a dynamic site (libraries, modules, frameworks, several databases engines etc.); a static website can be developed in any type of local environment, then scaled and migrated to the web regardless of the specific server-side technologies involved
- version control for content: first of all, if dynamic websites handle content separately from the codebase (leaving it “hanging” somewhere else, in a database), static websites treat it as part of the codebase itself; therefore, the whole source code (content here included) can get stored in a version control system (such as GIT repository) and rolled rolled back or corrected in case “accidents” occur
- scalability: it's more than obvious that a web server can easily handle and therefore smoothly scale to (unexpected) truckloads of traffic if it's simply returning static files, right?
- security: since static websites keep everything pretty simple (there's no user input, no lots of different processes involved, authentication or lots of security patches that the end-user might ignore) there's not much left that attackers can hack; there's just a web server returning HTML static files, no other complexities that can easily turn into security vulnerabilities
- traffic flood handling: static websites are better prepared for the “unexpected”, the “surprise” floods of traffic; since they serve HTML files, they “spare” the web server's resources, leaving it capable to handle all the unexpected traffic peaks far better than dynamic sites relying on database calls and heavy processing for that
- lowers costs: and “less resources of time”, as well, since a static site is simpler to maintain and uses less server resources, as well
Is a Static Site The Solution for Your Own Web Project?
This is THE question! For, you should know that static site generators are no one-size-fits-all magical solution.
They can easily turn into the perfect solution for particular types of web projects (for instance a static website might not be a good fit for your company if you're dealing with an extremely heavy load of content and so filtering and search are two crucial functionalities on your site or with core content that is updating feed on a regular basis).
Before you decide whether a static site generator is the right tool for your future web project, ask yourself these “what matters most” type of questions:
- Security and version control for content or user input functionality?
- High performance and scalability or real-time content functionality?
- Low maintenance or admin UI?
Carefully ponder your answers and take an informed decision!
Our Static Site Generators-Powered Services & Solutions
Have you understood how static site generators work? Have you compared their benefits with their limitations? Have you set the results of your “analysis” against your own organization's needs and objectives? And you've decided to “go static”!
We're here to turn your static web project into reality!
Meaning that the OPTASY team is ready to:
- offer you all the needed consultancy about the best static site generator to go for and about the vital features that your future static website should have
- build your website using a static website generator (even if it's a huge, content-packed project that we'll be talking about)
- put together the “power” of a static website generator (with all its above-mentioned advantages) with that of content API and create the most suitable infrastructure for your content-driven website
- pack your site with those key features that your online presence might depend on, such as real-time search and multi-language content