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Introducing Pudl: An Easy to Use JavaScript-Based Static Site Generator

maedahbatool profile image Maedah Batool 👩‍💻 Originally published at maedahbatool.com ・6 min read

Today, I am super excited to release my dev-friendly starter toolkit pudl. In this post, I am going to share what is pudl, what is the motivation & philosophy behind building this dev-tooling, and the story of how I got started till its launch. Let’s start with intro first…

🐶 Introducing pudl

pudl is a JavaScript-based static site generator for quick prototyping of awesome little static demos while teaching/presenting. Packed inside pudl you'll find workflows for GulpSass, and Pug to get you started. It is aimed at both beginners and professionals who are looking forward to getting a solid start for any static site. So basically, pudl is a simple implementation of Gulp which helps to perform the following tasks:

  • ⚡️ Use Pug to generate HTML files
  • 🎯 Handles Sass to CSS conversion
  • 🔥 Live reloads the browser with BrowserSync
  • 👊 Watch files for changes

🎩 How It All Began?

For the past 9 years, I have been working with WordPress and during all this time I have transitioned myself through different roles like from Content Strategist to Program Manager and to an aspiring Developer. But particularly for the last 2 years since I got married to the incredible Ahmad Awais — who's a huge open-source developer advocate I have been handling the pre-development workflows for his projects. During all this time I encountered a pretty monotonous work routine which included configuring tools which rendered pug to html, sass to css and integrate live reload with BrowserSync. Moreover, I realized that at least 20% of my time would go into this process every time I got started with any new project. So, to stop me from reinventing the wheel daily and follow the DRY (Don’t Repeat Yourself) philosophy, I decided to build a site generator with just the right features I need. When I got started, I only wanted it to cater my web-dev workflow needs. As I went ahead developing it, I realized that it could serve the purpose of several other developers as well. So, here I present pudl which is a simple implementation of Gulp for performing the following tasks:

  • ✅ Pug to HTML conversion
  • ✅ Sass to CSS conversion
  • ✅ Watch files for changes
  • ✅ Error handling and notify messages.

🔥 Getting Started

Getting started with pudl is way too easy. In just 4 simple steps you can §set up a basic web architecture for your development projects. And the best thing is that you don't have to repeatedly.

→ Step #0: Install Node & NPM Package Manager

In case you are an absolute beginner to the world of Node.js, JavaScript, and npm packages — all you need to do is go to the Node's site download + install Node on your system. This will install both Node.js and npm, i.e., node package manager — the command line interface of Node.js. You can verify the install by opening your terminal app and typing...

→ Step #1: Download the Required Files

Download gulpfile.jspackage.json.gitignore and config.js files inside the root folder of your project. You can also use your terminal to browse your desired folder and run the following command which will download all the required files for you via cURL.

→ Step #2: Editing the Project Variables

The next step is to change the project variables in the config.js file according to your folder structure.

→ Step #3: Installing Node Dependencies

The next step is that in your root folder install the Node dependencies. In the terminal run this command and wait for it to download all the node.js dependencies. It's a one-time process and can take about 5 minutes depending on the speed of your internet connection.

→ Step #4: Run npm start

Finally, run the following command to get up and running with pudl.

Now gulp will start watching your pug and sass files for any changes and provides you with a link through which you can access your site locally.

👊 pudl Folder Structure

Let’s now run through the most important parts of the pudl project.

☑️ dist

Instead of several tiers, I preferred compiling all the key files into one single folder and that is the dist folder. The overall folder architecture is pretty much simple and easy to comprehend since the two primary files which pique your interest is the gulpfile.js and config.js. The remaining files are the package.json and .gitignore. Let's quickly study the contents of gulpfile.js and config.js.

☑️ gulpfile.js File

The gulpfile.js is built in such a way that it can be used with any dev project. It consists of the following portions:

  1. Configuration & Load Plugins: Handles project configuration for gulp tasks and load gulp plugins for it.
  2. Task view: Compiles Pug into HTML, Error Handling and Notifies for the success message.
  3. Task styles: Compiles Sass into CSS, Error Handling and Notifies for the success message.
  4. Task bsync: Injects changes and automatically open the browser with BrowserSync live server.
  5. Watch default Task: Watch for file changes and run specific tasks.

Here is the complete source code of the gulpfile.js file:

☑️ config.js File

The config.js has all the settings for project configuration. When you are integrating pudl in your development workflow editing of these project variables is a must thing to do because the folder architecture may vary from one project to another. However, I have tried to name these project variables in a way which are used quite consistently. Here is the complete source code of the config.js file.

✅ Running pudl

If you have been following this post thoroughly then by now I am sure you've understood the basic setup and working of pudl. So, before I end this piece let me show you how it works in a real-time environment.

→ Step #1

I created a simple testing project called demo-with-pudl in which I directly ran the curl command which I have mentioned in the getting started steps. [/wt_extendImage] This command will download the gulpfile.jspackage.json.gitignore and config.js files inside this root folder. Likewise, I edited my project variables in the config.js file and my folder architecture looks something like this: [wt_extendImage]

→ Step #2

Now I will install the node dependencies by running the npm install command in my terminal. This adds a new folder for node modules in the root folder.

→ Step #3

Now it's the final part of the setup where you will run pudl to see how gulp handles all the described tasks for you. Simply type the command npm start and hit Enter in your terminal. You are notified by a successful completion of views and styles which means both pug and sass are being rendered perfectly. Likewise, you are provided with a localhost link which live reloads for every change you make.

And It's A Wrap!

That's about it. The idea of pudl basically originated from my personal dev-workflow needs but later it got refined and has helped me open source it to the community on an advanced level. Now I am handing it over to you and look forward to your comments. Let me know if I missed something or if you didn’t understand a step or two. pudl is now available on GitHub and is free to use. Also, it'll be great to 🌟 its repository and share it across your network. Peace! ✌️

Discussion

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lysofdev profile image
Esteban Hernández

You could distribute this as an NPM package with an executable pudl

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geoff profile image
Geoff Davis

This. There are many if not most devs that know how to use curl/git to setup a project, but it seems unnecessary considering we already have tools to distribute and properly manage versions of projects like this.

Anyways, looks cool! Always enjoy seeing Pug around

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lysofdev profile image
Esteban Hernández

Considering the limited amount of source files, this could all be packaged as templates then a CLI interface would gather the values necessary to render the templates customized for a new project (project name, authors, description, license, etc.). Using templates removes the dependency on Git even though I believe Git is a dependency of Node so should always be available.

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mrahmadawais profile image
Ahmad Awais ⚡️

Wonderful idea, how about you reach out and contribute. It's all open source and it's #Hacktoberfest as well. I think she wanted to do just that.

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lysofdev profile image
Esteban Hernández

Would love to contribute. Didn't see a project site tho.

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mrahmadawais profile image
Ahmad Awais ⚡️

Oh sure, here's the GitHub link github.com/maedahbatool/pudl let's do it :)
Peace! ✌️

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mrahmadawais profile image
Ahmad Awais ⚡️

As far as I know, she's already working on it for the next release. 😇

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maedahbatool profile image
Maedah Batool 👩‍💻 Author

Hey, Esteban!

That's the plan. I am working on the next release and that is going to be in it.

Peace! ✌️

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bartosz_io profile image
Bartosz Pietrucha

Nice! But what are the benefits over for example MetalSmith?

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kayis profile image
K

Haha, yes.

I think this is an excellent project and the fact that a "WordPress Core Contributor" built it seems intriguing, but the first thing I wanna read in such posts are comparisons to other tools like this. I mean "my personal dev-workflow needs" implies that something wasn't quite right with Gatsby, MetalSmith, OctoPress, etc.

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mrahmadawais profile image
Ahmad Awais ⚡️

This is wonderful, Maedah! It has already helped in my workshop yesterday — waiting for the v2 release with an npm package.

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Maedah Batool 👩‍💻 Author

Sure thing! Working on it.

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revskill10 profile image
Truong Hoang Dung

Why do people keep reinvent the (old) wheels when we have better things to offer ?

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maedahbatool profile image
Maedah Batool 👩‍💻 Author

When I looked at my work routine, then the setup of basic web architecture for a new project was something which took more than 20% of my time. And reinventing the wheel daily was something which was bothering me a lot.

I figured out the basic needs of my web-dev workflow and realized that it shouldn’t be that hard to build something small, with just the right features I need. pudl actually helps me not to reinvent the wheel daily.

I just open-sourced it so that others can take the benefit of it. :)

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shoptechmedia profile image
shoptechmedia

nice one..