Using Jekyll to generate a static site

When dealing with integration points feels too much like your day job and the diaspora of plugins and functionality of a full-blown CMS is simply too much for your needs, keep things simple...use a static website generator like jekyll and serve your assets from a web server's hard disk the way your grandparents did.

What is Jekyll

Jekyll is a static site generator that is growing in popularity since being adopted by Github to power Github Pages.

It’s a flexible, easy-to-pick-up tool that scans source content such as html, markdown, less, sass and coffee-script files and generates all the assets of your website, following your defined templates.

Why use a static generator…?

Because dealing with integration points is my day job…!

Integration points have got to be the most common place where things go askew in production. Application code gets tested and verified, unit tests and system tests keep a code-base safer safe to change…but, it’s integration points between the web sites up front, the database and web services out back where things get a bit risky after this point…and, there’s very little that can be done to prevent it…only respond to it.

What about hosting with Wordpress…?

Wordpress does what it does really well and contains a massive range of available plug-ins and themes. Wordpress is super-easy to customise, there’s a huge, active community of developers and hackers, and a plethora of forum posts and blog posts to assist. There is tonnes of potential functionality.

But, what if you don’t need tonnes of functionality?

Jekyll, your favourite text editor and the ability to ftp may be everything you need. Static websites will continue to just work. No database patches, no downtime beyond your web server, and no patching or updating plug-ins.

Other website generation tools

There are a number of other popular website generators available.

I did some exploration of using assemble, a nodejs tool that generates sites from content files and templates, but I found the syntax a little clumsy and didn’t have much success.

With Github getting behind Jekyll as the tool to power their Pages service, it’s likely we will see an explosion of robust modules and discussion in the online community.