Why Choose a Static Site Generator? #Part 2

The Static Site Generator is Reborn

Static Site Generator

 

Fast forward to recent years, since mid-2012 Static Site Generators have since regained their popularity after having gone through a serious revamp. Even back in days WordPress’ biggest competitor, Movable Type offered the capability of working as a static site generator.

A lot of the constraints and drawback have since have been improved upon to meet today’s competitive site building industry and appeal to frontline developers.

 

A good Static Site Generator should include the following attributes:

  • A good static site generator should enable a developer to get rid of duplicate headers/footers. Manually getting rid of duplicates or splitting a website layout increases the time to develop a website significantly.
  • All good static generators should allow the developer to work with Markdown. This will allow developers to separate the content from the design, enabling them to upload plain-text and modify within the site generator.
  • A static site generator should enable the developer to use Front Matter when working with Markdown. Front matter is a bit of meta data typically in YAML format & can be found on the top of a document containing information such a author of the document, date published, category, etc.
  • A lot of frontline development today revolves around Tools & Compilers. Website data needs to miniaturized and conjoined for minimum load time and optimum efficiency. Make sure your choice of Static Site Generator includes an asset pipeline that can carry out the functions of: Compiling, Transpiling, Miniaturization & Bundling.
  • Lastly, your choice of static site generator should be a good finisher. Which means it should come with a comprehensive Command-line UI for putting it all together ready for upload to any static host server or be served from any normal web server.

Better Late Than Never

Static Site Generator

 

To conclude, if the above aren’t reasons enough why your existing or next website development project should be one that is based on a Static site generator then consider the following as our closing statement.

 

Static site generators are now very versatile as compared to their original versions. With the growth spurt that browsers have shown, trying to implement features like social media snippets or feeds, chat & even real time data updating through a dynamic website platform can be very challenging and unnecessary.

 

Static site generators now offer useful plugins through private developers that allow for quick social media integration & live real time data updating. Simply put static site generators are now capable of running full-fledged web applications.

 

Another reason to prefer Static site generators over dynamic website are CDNs or Content Delivery Networks. In 1999 Akamai released the first CDN. CDNs allow vast amount of data to be delivered to the web all around the world in a very short time. At the time only companies like CNN & Facebook could afford the leisure of such a service, however that has drastically changed over the years with the introduction companies like Fastly, MacCDN & CloudFlare offer comprehensive CDN services to even small size business. Now CDNs can be used in a dynamic website foundation too but caching is much riskier and complicated. This caching process can even be automated with services like Netify on a static site generator based website.

 

The demand for outstanding performance outweighs all others. The introduction of Mobile devices to the consumer market has risen the standards and demands of mobile users everywhere. Several million people view website from their mobile devices often on 3G & 4G networks with 5G in the works. Performance has never been more important. It’s a commonly known fact that approx. 57% of all visitors will abandon a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load, whereas not too long ago visitors used to wait up to 10 seconds. No matter how well optimized your dynamic website or how much you have spent on its maintenance & upkeep, it will never compare to a Static site generator website that is well-tuned & hosted on the right CDN for just a few dollars a month.

 

Lastly, with build tools now so easily and readily available, no longer do you need to restrict to C or Java programming. Build tools are simple, user & UI friendly tools that allow a multitude of tasks and affects to be carried out effortlessly with basic knowledge of website development and a little bit of creativity.

Why Choose a Static Site Generator?

So, short answer first, they are simple to use and overall awesome but to really understand why you should consider choosing a static site generator when building your website we have to travel a little back in time and take another look at the internet and website relationship.
The very first website that was built by no other than Tim Berners-Lee himself just so happened to be a homepage for the World Wide Web and it was static, Tim didn’t have much a choice back then because static is all there was.

History Lesson

History LessonIn essence, the very birth origins of websites were Static built which consisted of a folder on a server containing HTML documents of just 18 tags.
In the same manner, browsers were simple and only just needed to retrieve the HTML files from the servers and display them in a readable manner to the viewer. For the longest of time websites remained simple & static but in time would grow to become creative in design and interaction.
With growth of this magnitude & website designs & development requires more time, energy and focus, the practice of working individually on each page was fast becoming a nuisance.

This introduced automation in the website development realm, templating website development languages was becoming a need of the industry. However as website grew to be more creative and in depth companies also found left with wanting a database to host all those website files, that’s when SQL based databases started gaining popularity.

With the introduction of early development programs like Dreamweaver & FrontPage that provided a means of building content driven websites by allowing webpages to reuse certain parts of a webpage like the header, footer & the content could be housed to some level in a database. But this technique did not prove to be so successful but nonetheless they were the first Static Site Generators.

 

 

Dynamic Dilemma

Dynamic DilemmaDynamic websites changed the game completely with their versatility and amazing ability to bring together pieces of text into an HTML document via data templates being sent back & forth through an open connection to a database connected to a server by loading the code through a PHP Interpreter, this all happens on the move instantaneously, tailored made to each individual visitor of the dynamic site.
But! In a short few years, the world comes to know the vulnerabilities that come with such ease and luxury. Hackers exposed the potential gaping loopholes in security of dynamic website by mass hacking website, some not so nice hackers even resorted to higher degrees of criminality by extortion & blackmail because they were able to lead directly back to the servers hosting the dynamic website files.
To put things in perspective, even today with all the advancements made in website development and security by one estimate roughly 70% of WordPress installations are vulnerable to exploits & WordPress powers nearly a quarter of the websites on the internet.
For all of its features, dynamic abilities and ease of use, the dynamic platform in our view is just not worth the risk, especially of your website is hosted on a bulk server because the threat than can come from any website hosted on the mutual server.

 

Cashing the Cache

Cashing the CacheCaching is a practice used by website developers to help webpages load quicker but caching or better yet cache invalidation is a very tricky business especially with dynamic websites & the kind of distributed caching needed to utilize the full potential of your CDN (Content Delivery Network). Static websites are in this sense different. Static website stick with a simple thumb rules of caching “Every URL will reciprocate the same HTML to every visitor until the HTML file that relates to that URL is specifically changed”.
Even a really well optimized dynamic website is up to 6X slower than a static website! Working with the cache protocols of a static website are a bit more intimidating in the development phase, but in the longer run a static website’s performance, uptime & cost will be significantly lower than that of a dynamic.

to be continued….