This website is a static site, by which I mean, it is a folder of files on my hard drive .
When I want to publish new content, I run these files through a static site generator, which bundles them up, generates an index and a content page, formats everything as HTML files a web browser can understand, then copies those files to a server somewhere. After that, I am free from any further responsibility for its upkeep. The server that hosts this content can be extremely simple, which means I do not need to spend much effort on security or configuration, or hosting fees etc.
This is a high performance, low-friction way of doing things, at least for me. I do not need to worry about manually copying my notes from my hard drive to the website. My notes are my website.
The main pain point of static sites IMO is that there are many systems for making them, each pitched at a particular level of nerdiness, but there are few methods targeted at non-nerds. Also, yak shaving risk: Such sites are highly customisable, and so cry out for automation and macros and setting up just how I like it, which is probably not how other people like it. Any static site generator which is too nerdy seems incomprehensibly idiosyncratic. Any static sit generator which is not nerdy enough seems tediously menial. The upshot is that these things are great for personal use but can be tricky for collaboration.
The academic blogging workflow is a sequel to this one, targeted to researchers wherein I recommend plain text static-site blogging. Here I do not worry so much about certain features which are important mostly to academics, e.g. mathematical equations, graphs, citations…
Bloggers might have less academic priorities. If you want less mathematical markup and more monetization, try the blogophere.
This documentation is oriented to my priorities, but you can find a lot of stuff googling JAMstack, which is the hype name for this static setup.
The static site generator. The core bit. The software that takes my plain content files and turns them into friendly websites with all the nice decorations around the edges and colour schemes and indexes and stuff.
As mentioned, there are hundreds — maybe thousands — of static site generators. The lineage is ancient, including such the original World Wide Web and its progenitors, travelling via the primordial (and no longer active) static site generators such as the venerable bloxsom into the current day See the About page to see which one(s) I am (currently) using for this site.
TODO: AFAICT there is not much to choose between the various site generators I mention below as far as the base functionality goes (taking some files and making them look acceptable on the internet). There are some advanced features which would be distinguishing, if I had treated them more thoroughly:
- Good graphical preview in an editor.
- Intuitive handling of images and other media.
- Ease of collaboration on content via a CMS of some kind.
Some interesting ones:
- Hugo (go) is a popular system. Its R companion, blogdown, is probably ascendant for academics.
- Docusaurus is a facebok-supported one.
- quarto is basically a reinvention of blogdown, but cleaner and easier.
- Next.js by Vercel has momentum and is beloved of people building rich interactions and sites that feel like they transcend being a “static” site. If I wasn’t trying to be an academic this would be an interesting thing to try out simply because the tooling is good.
- Pelican (python), the previous engine for this blog, is easy to hack if you use python.
- Jekyll (ruby) is the default for github, although I personally could never make it work for me because of something about forking and plugins and other stuff that was so boring that I erased it from my brain.
- Hakyll is a haskell variant of jekyll one with good pandoc integration.
- Neuron (also haskell) is noteworthy because it puts Zettelkasten online, which is nice if that is your thing.
- There are some extra ones, below, that integrate specialised editor apps, a.k.a. CMSs.
- Not quite a static site, but org2blog publishes org mode notes to a website, even a “non static” one. As seen in Nick Higham’s Blog Workflow
hugo are opinionated and provide a featureful setup per default.
Others, like lettersmith
take a DIY route where they provide the libraries to build something minimal, but it is up to you.
For my part, I used dokuwiki for a while (no longer recommended), then switched to Pelican (fine), and have now settled upon blogdown (i.e. hugo+RMarkdown) which has better support for academic blogging.
GUI editors for static sites
My editor is VS code, which is a code editor, and which I basically live in so it is comfortable for me. People who are not full-time nerds might like a friendlier interface.
See static site editors for a list of editors that are specifically designed for static sites.
Try JAMstackthemes for a smörgåsbord of themes for various software.
Here are some hosts I have auditioned to host my main static site (i.e. this blog).
github incidentally hosts sites as part of their
They support a local dev server which makes stuff convenient.
- How To Migrate From WordPress To The Eleventy Static Site Generator — Smashing Magazine
- lonekorean/wordpress-export-to-markdown: Converts a WordPress export XML file into Markdown files.
- NextJS + TinaCMS Setup Guide | TinaCMS Docs
- How to Migrate from WordPress to a Static Site Generator — SitePoint
- The End of an Era: Migrating from WordPress to Gatsby | Tania Rascia
- some-programs/exitwp: Exitwp is tool primarily aimed for making migration from one or more wordpress blogs to the jekyll blog engine as easy as possible.
- Migrate to Hugo | Hugo
- Jekyll Exporter – WordPress plugin | WordPress.org
- palaniraja/blog2md: Convert Blogger & Wordpress backup blog posts to hugo compatible markdown documents
- From WordPress to Hugo – How I Migrated a 250+ Page Site and the Scripts I Used
- Export WordPress Posts to Static HTML with Next.js
- Website Migration from WordPress to Next.js & Tailwind CSS