Best Static Site Generators: Static websites look, feel and act the same way to every one.
In contrast, dynamic websites are generated dynamically and can look differently to differnt people.
Let me elaborate by giving an example.
If two people log in to facebook.com, they will see different content on their feed. This is because, here the web pages are constructed by retrieving content from a database. The content is retrieved based on multiple parameters, like who you are following and what they have posted/uploaded recently.
Of course, what happens behind the scene is more complicated than that but I assume you have got a basic understanding of how static and dynamic websites work and what are the differences between static and dynamic websites.
Most of the websites that we come across these days are dynamic websites. Even websites, like most of the blogs, which do not require custom content generated for each user are mostly dynamic. They are backed by databases and powered by server-side programming which makes them easier to manage and update compared to static websites.
For example, in the old days, before dynamic websites came into being, making a change in the layout of a static website required one to change each and every page of the website manually. Imagine the pain of maintaining a static website with thousands of pages.
With dynamic websites, all you have to do is make changes in the HTML template, and the changes will be reflected on all the pages of the websites.
It is for this simplicity most of the websites today are dynamic websites.
But dynamic websites have their own set of limitations:
- They are slower compared to static websites. Due to involvement of databases and server-side programming, the websites become bloated.
- Dynamic websites are more prone to attacks.
- Maintaining dynamic websites is expensive compared to static websites.
Because of these, many are switching back to static websites. And with the advent of various static site generators, things have become simpler now - the gap between static ad dynamic websites have closed a bit.
So, in this article, I will provide you with the list of best static site generators.
5 Best Static Site Generators
So, with the introduction of various static site generators, now, it is not as tough to manage a static website as it used to be.
In fact, many top companies and organisations have now moved back to static websites, thanks to the wide range of static site generators we have.
But what are static site generators?
Originally, static sites used to be hand-coded. Each and every page were created and maintained separately. Static site generators act as a hybrid between this approach and modern approaches to web development.
With static site generators, you already have the template for the website. All you have to do is feed raw data such as markdown files and the site generator constructs/updates the site using these data.
This entire process can happen on a local computer. Once built, you have to push the build to your server.
Since static site generators support templates and themes, you don't have to manually make changes in every single page of the website.
Let us now look into the best static site generators of 2020.
Best Static Site Generator 1: Jekyll
The list will be incomplete without Jekyll.
One of the oldest static site generators, Jekyll was released by Tom Preston-Werner, the co-founder of GitHub in 2008.
- Jekyll is written in Ruby.
- It uses Liquid templating engine.
- It is blog-aware.
- Jekyll is open-source.
- It can be used in combination with front-end frameworks such as Semantic UI, Bootstrap, etc.
- It has in-built Sass support.
- Jekyll sites can be hosted for free on GitHub Pages, Netlify, Render.
- You can connect your Jekyll site to cloud-based CMS solutions like Forestry.io and CloudCannon, and add/update content without any difficulty. No coding knowledge required.
- It has 39706 stars on staticgen.com.
Best Static Site Generator 2: Gatsby
Gatsby is another static site generator that has gained extreme popularity in recent times. It uses modern technologies like React, GraphQL, etc. and follows the latest web standards.
- It uses React for templating.
- Gatsby uses GraphQL to fetch data.
- Gatsby sites are extremely fast.
- It is a great option to create blogs.
- Gatsby can be used in combination with various popular CMS like WordPress, Ghost, Drupal, etc.
- You can host your Gatsby site for free on Netlify, Render, and other such platforms.
- It has 42213 stars on staticgen.com.
Best Static Site Generator 3: Hexo
Hexo is a super-fast, blog-aware static site generator that is simple to set up and use.
- Hexo uses Swig templating engine. However, other templating engines, like Mustache, Handlebars, Pug, etc. can also be used.
- Setting up Hexo in your local computer is extremely easy and fast.
- Site generation is extremely fast - even with hundreds of files, you can generate your site in seconds.
- It supports single command deployment.
- Hexo sites can be hosted almost anywhere, including free options, like Netlify.
- It has 29501 stars on staticgen.com.
Best Static Site Generator 4: Hugo
Smashing Magazine, a very popular website among web designers and developers uses Hugo. It is blazing fast.
- Hugo is written in Go.
- Go is used for templating as well.
- For its speed and simplicity, it is a great option for blogs that have thousands of pages.
- It can generate a site from your content and template in milliseconds. Literally.
- Hexo sites too can be hosted anywhere.
- It has 41571 stars on staticgen.com.
Best Static Site Generator 5: Next.js
It is a relatively new static site generator. Next.js is a minimalist framework and is mainly used to build React apps.
- Next.js uses React for templating.
- It supports static exporting and server-side rendering.
- Next.js sites can be deployed anywhere - Amazon S3, GitHub Pages, etc.
- It has 44973 stars on staticgen.com.
So, now you know the best static site generators of 2020. I will write detailed articles on how to create a site/blog using each of them. Until then, if you have any query, feel free to contact me. I will try to help you out.