Brussels / 2 & 3 February 2013


Static site generation for the masses

Static website generators are slowly rising in popularity and have been proven to be a worthy alternatives to CMSes in many cases. This talk explains what static site generators are, how they avoid the traditional problems with CMSes, and explains what technical challenges must be overcome when implementing one.

In the beginning of the web, there were only static HTML files. This way of working proved to be hard to maintain, so people connected a database to their web sites, and in this way, CMSes were born. Today's CMSes are much more powerful than their ancestors, but they have brought a slew of drawbacks with them. Deployment has become harder, security is more of a sore point than ever, and speed issues are still hard to solve.

A CMS is overkill for many sites. Many drawbacks of CMSes can be aleviated by using a static site generator. These tools generate static HTML files and other static assets that can be deployed to any web host. They have recently gained a lot in popularity, and have proven to be a worthy alternative to CMSes in many cases. Even FOSDEM has, as of the 2013 edition, replaced Drupal with nanoc, a popular static site generator.

How do static site generators work, precisely? How do they differ from traditional CMSes? What are their advantages and how do they resolve drawbacks that CMSes have? This talk gives answers to these questions, built on real-world experience received by creating several large web sites powered by static site generators.


Denis Defreyne