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Two static website generators explored – Hugo & Jekyll

Posted by Venkatt Guhesan on June 5, 2016

Today I had to quickly assemble a wiki/blog website for our family temple back in India. At first, I considered doing my traditional option to leverage WordPress (this blog uses WordPress). Then I thought of all the complexities of setting up a MySQL database, creating and registering the site with WP Jetpack, etc. I wanted something quick, easy to maintain and something that I can hand over to someone else for maintaining. Most software developers are used to GIT for source-control and if there was a way to keep the source files in a GIT then this opens up the possibility of merely giving thee end-user the access to the GIT repo and they can then either maintain it in the long run or branch it into their own copy. Spending a bit of time researching my options, I came across a suit of tools that allows you to generate static-blogs and wiki. Out of the dozen or so options, I decided to explore the one with the most traffic (namely Jekyll) and one that is ranking fourth but built on GoLang (namely Hugo).

Both Jekyll and Hugo had similar features when it came to Content, Front-Matter, Templates, Taxonomies, Themes, Categories, Sections, support for static content besides blogs, ability to support Markdown syntax for editing. So I would highly recommend both Jekyll and Hugo. What made me opt for Hugo is the simplicity of setup/installation. With Hugo, I had to download one executable [since it was developed in GoLang (one of my *new* favorite languages), it allows for native compilation for many different architectures and operating systems including Windows, Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD and OS X (Darwin) for x64, i386 and ARM architectures (essentially wherever the Go compiler tool chain can run). Once I unzipped the executable to a directory, all I had to do is to add it onto my $PATH either in Linux or in Windows. And that is all you need to do to get started. Whereas with Jekyll, I had to first install Ruby, then  Ruby Gems, then (gem install jekyll) then NodeJS and optionally Python 2.7 for Jekyll 2 or earlier. The installation steps for getting Jekyll was way too complex. Granted I had most of those tools already installed but for non-developers, this would be a pain-point.

Once Hugo was available on my $path, then to create a blank site all I had to do is as follows:

mkdir myproject
cd myproject
hugo new site sivavishnu .
# Creates a blank starter site with default theme

Now in my case, I am a big fan of Bootstrap. So I googled for a themes built on Bootstrap for Hugo. I came across a few options, which led me to BootsWatch. I found that Nicholas Whittier had created a Hugo-Bootswatch (Thank you Nicholas) theme built on top of Bootswatch>Bootstrap. So to integrate Hugo-Bootswatch to my site, I followed directions on Hugo as follows:

cd myproject
mkdir themes
git clone
# This clones a copy of the "hugo-bootswatch" project under my "themes" folder

Now to create some sample blog articles using Hugo:

cd myproject
hugo new post/
# This creates a markdown file under myproject/sivavishnu/content/post/
# You can now edit this file and using Markdown syntax for the headers and HTML for the body

Here is a link to learning Markdown

Now here are two options in Hugo to preview and to generate the site:

# To run a webserver with latest blog (including drafts):
hugo --theme=hugo-bootswatch server --buildDrafts
# To generate the latest blog (under public folder)
hugo --theme=hugo-bootswatch

If you want to then go crazy and create static pages, exclusions from list, customize the CSS by adding some colors, etc you can do
all of this! 🙂

But here are two options that you will need to consider:

  1. Since this is a static site (with no back-end server engine like PHP, NodeJS, Tomcat, etc), you will need a way to allow users to search your site. I chose to add Google Site Search as an option. It’s free but the catch is that until Google indexes your site the search option is not functional.
  2. Analytics for your site to trach your hits. See the link in Hugo document for steps.
  3. Adding the ability under blog pages for external users to comment. Again Hugo gives you the option to integrate with Disqus. See link on Hugo document how-to integrate Hugo with Disqus.

This way, all your site is doing is serve a static site. Did I mention that Hugo also generates your static site wicked fast?

So as a last step, I generated the static website and uploaded it to my BlueHost hosting provider.

And don’t forget to check in your code into a GIT repo of your choice. In my case, I’ve checked in my code at

Here are the links:

Hope you enjoyed reading this article. Consider subscribing and sharing!

— update

Few folks emailed me asking what those fonts were on the site. It’s one of the oldest spoken languages that exists in Southern India called Tamil.

And now for today’s inspirational quote:

When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say, I used everything you gave me.
– Erma Bombeck



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