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Cover image for Static Site Generators are not for me! My Experience with Jekyll, Hugo and NetlifyCMS

Static Site Generators are not for me! My Experience with Jekyll, Hugo and NetlifyCMS

justaashir profile image Aashir Aamir Khan Originally published at justaashir.com Updated on ・3 min read

My previous post was a banger, I didn't know about the Dev's Power. My next post is here:


My writer friend(doesn't know code) ❤️ wanted me to make a website for him, he wants to upload his stories online and also want his Portfolio to be available online. So everyone knows what's the best option, available??Wordpress, Hmm. It was easy to work but I made it complicated myself, I wanted to get going with the Trends, I have heard so many times about the Speed and efficiency of Static Site Generators, So it's my experience with them:


Gatsby is the most popular Static Site Generator Right Now, But it's based on React and I don't know any JS Framework yet, and if you don't have good knowledge of React, you can't use it. and so Gridsome(VueJs) you are also out.
__
Jekyll supported by GitHub, one of the oldest Static Site Generator based on Ruby, learning it, is not the biggest problem, but you will get stuck in Installing it. After wasting your lot of time installing it, There is no principle of Clean Code in Jekyll. it's very cluttery - No more fuss about Jekyll, Let's move on


Hugo tagged the 'Most Easiest Static Site Generator', It's based on GoLang. I found it, it's installation was much easier than Jekyll. Try to find some good tutorials, but there is not much information available about Hugo Found these :
There Docs sucks! I didn't find any answer there! I stuck into many Problems but I figure them out! I decided to work with Hugo.


The next step was learning about making custom Theme of Hugo! But I didn't find a single video on YouTube about the total procedure from Scratch. I downloaded a Simple Theme from HugoThemes, and I tried to customize it and I finally did it. Now It's Time for applying the CMS. I chose NetlifyCMS cause it has Netlify in its name. So I push it on GitHub and in Netlify I made a build command for Hugo on every push, but what the duck! is Git Submodule for Theme? I tried to solve it but didn't find any answer so I copy all the /themes files into /layout folder so It became the default style. Now more problems are coming?


After all of this and very bad Filepath system of Hugo, I delivered a website to my friend which he creates new posts. And then He asked me that He want to change the Content of the homepage and also want to make some more pages by himself. I tried it but _index.md logic scares me! there was no option available for Static Pages Editing in Layouts Folder and Lot's of other options! Now I am not gonna back to Hugo.


What's going on with Docs? They are so shit?
I just wanted a static site generator to take my custom theme, make it accessible to edit every part of it by the user on CMS. Maybe it's possible in Gatsby, VuePress or Gridsome but I don't have much time to learn these frameworks. I am a designer. Then I also tried 11ty, it excites me due to direct usage of Javascript in it. There were also so many starter templates available, but I have wasted all of my time on Hugo, then I get back to the old and easiest way???? Wordpress.

You really gave me such a good response in my previous post! That's All, Follow Me On Twitter : twitter.com/justaashir

Discussion

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faraixyz profile image
Farai Gandiya

I use Hugo and even though I love using it, it's incredibly frustrating to use at times and the documentation can be unhelpful at times.

Also, now that I've written over 100 blog posts on my blog, content management is a real nightmare. I should probably use WordPress but I can't afford hosting right now and I want to be hardcore.

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Prashanth Krishnamurthy

Why do you think it is a nightmare? For e.g. all content not visible, not subject to easy filtering like in Wordpress, cannot find deadlinks easily, others?

I have ~330 posts (small to medium-sized posts) on a Hugo blog and had no problems so far - but curious to get your perspective.

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faraixyz profile image
Farai Gandiya

It's just keeping them organized to begin with. Having to trowel through folders with dozens of posts, tracking all the different links and organizing assets like images. I'm hoping to restructure everything next year to make it somewhat easier or get a CMS to help me out.

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prashanth1k profile image
Prashanth Krishnamurthy

I totally understand that. I switched to VSCode a while back.

Using VSCode I can open the entire folder to view and search multiple posts (I use Hugo), have automatic formatting enabled for Markdown and the code within Markdown using Prettier, and also keep running Hugo locally to see how the end-result appears in a browser.

I use external tools to check links.

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gl_holman profile image
GL Holman

Curious to know more about how you set yourself up with vscode and Hugo, if you would care to share. Not much I can find on that especially for setting it up with netlify and netlify CMS through GitHub -― which is really what I would like to achieve.

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albertomontalesi profile image
AlbertoM

I've only gotten 10 articles on my Gatsby blog, in what sense content management is a real nightmare? I don't really see it as a problem in the future, at least for me

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Patrick McKinney

I've used Jekyll for my portfolio site and a blogging site with my wife. I used a Bootstrap theme. I personally love having many small modular components I can load onto pages. And I've found using loops to load posts isn't too difficult. I've installed Jekyll on Ubuntu and ChromeOS Linux.

My frustration is with the blog authoring. My wife is not a developer. We write the articles in Google Drive. Then we use an online Markdown Editor and add some template code for the Front Matter, edit that, and paste in our article text. We then download the markdown file to our project directory on our laptop. It is a lot of work compared to editing a blog and publishing all from within Wordpress's nice interface.

If I could fine a nice WYSIWG editor that could push the file to my Git repo, then I think publishing articles would be much simpler. Anyone have experience with this?

Between GitHub pages and my sweat labor, all we are paying for is the domain name. Even get SSL through free CloudFlare account (but maybe that will go away with the IPO)?

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Kyle Taylor

Have you looked into prose.io? It's a great option for updating Markdown files directly in GitHub especially if you aren't using something like NetlifyCMS.

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Aashir Aamir Khan Author

Thanks 😊, I have to try prose.io

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Bayu Angora

Forestry is also good option.

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Aashir Aamir Khan Author

Yep Forestry is here

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Aashir Aamir Khan Author

Yep Nowadays There are so many Open Source CMSs available for Jekyll

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rizogg profile image
ZG

I just made Gatsby + contentfulCMS. First of all I have been tried Drupal, WordPress a long time ago. Comparing to WordPress and Drupal using Contentful and Gatsby setup with netlify static hosting gone smoothly. Plus using free plan relatively to all of them was cost effective.

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rizogg profile image
ZG

Setup CMS on host server, plus customization is too much work for company portfolio or such. There is database + backend language + frontend and caching etc,... Aside from that, static web site generator does it's job pretty well, also there is nothing to lose for some hacker, because it's static html pages. And server cost and much more staffs. Based on using netlify with gatsby and contentful combo makes those painful things easier. You just implemented a new feature, commit, push voila, its deployed. You added new blog post from contentful, voila it's on your website and it's static. No such connection to database.

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Aashir Aamir Khan Author

That's why I also tried Static Sites

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factoriatech profile image
Juan Esteban Hernández

A lot of people will tell you wordpress sucks. I use react and angular, but I still love wp because is easy to get it running on all perspectives compared to other frameworks. The only real down side of wp is that you have to keep on coming back to the backend and update and mantain it's plugins and stuff. What I would suggest for a wordpress site to run smoothly is to deploy it on lightsail, vultr or digitalocean on a single vps for it to have a better performance, security and independance. Solutions like react and Vue, angular (all of these new stuff) are very exciting, but they can be time comsuming to learn and handle for any kind of site.

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justaashir profile image
Aashir Aamir Khan Author

Yep, this is What I said in my article.

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Bayu Angora

I use Hugo for my personal website. I tried some famous static site generator before. I tried Jekyll, it's easy to build with GitHub Pages, but the build time is really slow. I tried 11ty, Gatsby, Gridsome, etc. There are good, but the build time not as fast as Hugo.

I'm active as moderator at WordPress Indonesia. And for my client project, I still recommend them to build website with WordPress, because WordPress is more familiar and user friendly. I only recommend static site if my clients knows what they are doing.

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justaashir profile image
Aashir Aamir Khan Author

You are an adventurer! It's really good to hear that you tried available options👍

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begrafx profile image
BEGRAFX

I have to agree with you, Aashir. Like you, I have recently seen all the "Hype" about static site generators, so I decided to look into it. My experience has been pretty similar to what you describe in your article. I am honestly puzzled by the (often complete) lack of documentation with software these days. And even more, the lack of support from many developers. Yes, I realize that these people have jobs, etc. And that this is "open-source", But I have lost track of how many times I have entered an issue, and gotten no response at all, even months later! Some, other developers have responded with "I have the same problem..." and collectively, we manage to help each other sort out a fix. But many, I have ended up abandoning application/tool/module X and hunting up another, simply because I couldn't get it to work. It seems so many today have this, "Well, you're a developer too, look at the source code and figure it out!" Mentality.

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Aashir Aamir Khan Author

This is what I tried to explain! Thanks

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epsi profile image
E.R. Nurwijayadi

I agree that SSG is not for everyone.

epsi-rns.gitlab.io/tags/hugo/

I also have some repos as examples on how to build theme using css framework for hexo, hugo, jekyll or 11ty.

gitlab.com/epsi-rns/tutor-hugo-mat...

tutor hugo materialize

I hope people enjoy these repositories.

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Aashir Aamir Khan Author

Thanks 😊 , For Sharing

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Marcio Duarte

I know I'm really too late in the discussion, but I think Publii (getpublii.com/) is a good fit for this use case.

It's quite like WordPress, in a way that is very client oriented and allow non tech people to manage it's own website, add pages, publish for free in Netlify, Github Pages, etc.

It also has a simple theming logic based on Handlebars, which is quite easy to learn. I haven't found another SSG with these features yet.

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Aashir Aamir Khan Author

Yep, Publii is great with lots of features. I just found two disadvantages:

  • it's 64-bit only
  • we can't edit or publish articles on our mobile or tablet

Thanks, for getting engaged with the discussion (late is better than never).

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John Bokma

Did you try tumblelog ;-). It's probably the easiest to get started with but most likely not to everyone's taste. You can see a working example here: Plurrrr.

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Prashanth Krishnamurthy

Getting started on any new stack can be frustrating and it does not help that static sites appear daunting for non-developers. I sincerely hope you find it in you to stick to any of them. Static sites are fast, secure, enable easier content writing and are easy to customize - once you get a hold on that part of the game.

Wordpress sets the bar too high for user-friendliness and that requires some catching up to do for the rest of us.

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Aashir Aamir Khan Author

Yep, Wordpress was last in my list.

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mark l chaves

Hi everyone,

Great post. A lot of useful insights and perspectives.

I didn't see CloudCannon (Jekyll CMS host provider) in the mix, so I thought I'd toss it in.

Here's my comparison between CloudCannon versus WordPress.

medium.com/@marklchaves/cloudcanno...

Sorry, it's on Medium. I'm still shopping around for another place to publish articles. Maybe DEV is it?

Thanks!

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Aashir Aamir Khan Author

Thanks, for sharing it. You made this post useful

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Mike Rogers 🛣

I've been using Middleman lately as my go to static site generator, but I think it's quite a niche market so the documentation will always lag behind the more popular choices.

That said, I recently tried SquareSpace with a custom design. I was a little blown away by how easy they made it :O

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Aashir Aamir Khan Author

Thanks for the suggestion 😊

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AlbertoM

To be honest I don't know much about React ( I work with angular) but I got my girlfriend and my website online very quickly. There is a good amount of themes out there. Not sure about setting up a CMS for it as I do not need it but I saw there are tutorials for it.

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Holy-Elie Scaïde

I've found that gulp powered build system for Pug and Scss and I cloned it. Right now I'm trying to add Prismic to the mix so I can edit it without editing the code. Everything else was overkill

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Aashir Aamir Khan Author

It sound's really cool! I have to try it.

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hartmonnmedia

This stack is really for simple sites unless you are a fairly advanced developer. And for fullstack developers, if you are barely clawing your way through html and css you need not try. If you are an experienced fullstack dev it offers so many shortcuts that improve your quality of life. It is geared towards clients making simple content updates but major things like adding new pages or customizing the layout is something that is done by the dev.

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Aashir Aamir Khan Author

Adding these things to the talk: I agree,JamStack is amazing. but Problem is there, I think Users are divided into so many groups there - Hugo - Jekyll and 50+ static site generator (You can check out the comments of my other post). People tried many Static Site Generators but they got stuck in many Problems and when they try to debug it(Google). What they found? Just Official Docs(Crap for now!) What?? The Stats say that 60000 users are using this static site generator. So where are the response? Why No Good Tutorials are available? Why Google is so much blank? Then they move to the second SSG and then the third SSG and then boom!
I know it's easy to create a website but Custom Theming, Plugins and many more. I think we must pivot! Improve the docs of the best solution for everyone and populate the community with it by writing articles and making YouTube videos. We can't handle so many Static Site Generators

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FLavalliere

Hello,

I have been working on a Hugo CMS long time a go to help fix some of these listed issues.
I had not been able to get enough help from the community to continue improving the Hugo hosting and SSG Solution that I had to work with Wordpress to get some other revenue on the side.

Let me know what you guys think of this video...

youtube.com/watch?v=5nQYQ-s2V88&fe...

The goal was to abstract the Git part of the non-tech people, and allow them to edit specific sections of their Website. All of that part of the same "Hugo" binary. In a sense a cross-platform solution that is able to work locally without any other 3rd party libraries to be installed locally, or remotely on the hosting solution I created (including preview pages with specific codes per websites, etc)

Feel free to contact me directly if anyone would like to get involved, I wanted to make this project as an Opensource solution to replace projects like "Ghost", but create a similar product.. with the use of SSG's.

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Peter Cruckshank

Ohh I'm sorry you had such a bad experience. Too bad you don't know React because Gatsby is incredible 💯😎
Other than that I would just go with WordPress. Good for you and them

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David J. Davis

Bro you should have taken the non developer approach and do squarespace or something. WordPress is not the easiest approach, it's a piece of crap.

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epsi profile image
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vallerydelexy

why is it piece of crap?

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David J. Davis

Because WordPress requires a ton of ongoing updates and fixes after updates, and because there are many core php methods that simply don't work in WordPress because...it's WordPress. And because it's not friendly to developers or the end user. WordPress somehow has become the go-to CMS for SMBs, and all it provides is the illusion of control to the end user who likes the idea of updating their content, but in the end they inevitably break stuff. Finally because WordPress was never intended to become what it is today from the start. It's a hot piece of garbage that needs to be left in antiquity. Luckily php is slowly but surely being used less and less every year.

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Arpit Batra

You should try using Eleventy. I even wrote a simple blog template for it. Check it here.

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Aashir Aamir Khan Author

Thanks, for sharing

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Michael Brooks

You could try Jigsaw which is built on PHP and based on the Larvel framework. jigsaw.tighten.co/

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Aashir Aamir Khan Author

Thanks for the suggestion 😊

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Ami Amigo

Aashir...You should try Ghost. So far it's the best blogging platform I have used

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James

If your just after a blog take a look at Ghost ghost.org/ I was recommended it over WordPress a while back. Never got round to installing it though. Good luck

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Aashir Aamir Khan Author

Thanks, for sharing

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Wuelfhis Asuaje

Did you tried Nikola? getnikola.com/ A python based static site generator.

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Aashir Aamir Khan Author

I just checked out the website, the docs are really good to follow-up, Python 😍. Thanks for suggestion