Why do peo­ple even bother with sta­tic sites?

Complex, slow to build, uncomfortable to write in -- what's so appealing about static site generators?

Be aware this is a draft post — please adjust your expectations accordingly. Get in touch if this post could use an improvement.

Starter kit.

I spent over a month work­ing on Smix Eleventy Starter, with help from some friends as well (Arpit, Darek). I greatly re­duced the de­pen­den­cies and de­faulted to a lot of core func­tion­al­ity with Eleventy and TailwindCSS that perhaps wasn’t as refined in 2019 as it is now.

For context, I had moved 80% of my knowledge and workflow and ideas from my own Eleventy static site in 2019… to Smix. I repeated that process now — this time keeping my own future needs in mind and building for that first — trying to reduce complexity. This time, Smix was to act as the foundation, rather than a feeder target from my site.

Fixing content and being back on Eleventy.

Then, I spent a bunch of time work­ing on fix­ing the posts that Jekyll Exporter dished out. Took me a long time, even with the help of RegEx-based search and re­place. Just mak­ing sure every post go­ing back 7 years was good was a task. I’ve combed through it all. Go­ing back to WordPress feels a lit­tle stu­pid right now.

I like how the new site looks. It’s lean, fast, and personalized. At the ex­pense of my pub­lish­ing ex­pe­ri­ence — it’s so aw­ful af­ter hav­ing got used to WP over the last year or so. I just do not feel like writing anything.

Comparison.

Both “systems” have their down­sides, of course.

For ex­am­ple, with WordPress, I had a bunch of plu­g­ins to dis­able func­tion­al­ity like its API, XML-RPC end­points, com­ments, and so on.

With Eleventy, not only is the pub­lish­ing process aw­ful, so are the build times on Vercel — 5 to 7 min­utes — which is largely down to eleventy-img.

I want to work on smix-kit to make some things easy, but is it re­ally worth it? I might be look­ing at a non-Word­Press CMS in the long term, but host­ing it is go­ing to be an is­sue. After all, a huge rea­son for mov­ing to a sta­tic site was sur­ren­der­ing my self-host­ing VPS and sav­ing some coins.

Recommendations.

I’m open to (serious) rec­om­men­da­tions. Don’t send me one just be­cause it works for you. Please take a minute to think about my pri­or­i­ties and if what you like & pre­fer fits me:

  • Easy and to­tal them­ing (control over tem­plates and styles) with­out break­ing away from up­stream/​up­dates.
  • Using the lat­est CSS stan­dards and fea­tures (PostCSS).
  • Manage me­dia eas­ily, in­clud­ing be­ing able to crop and add sim­ple ef­fects to pho­tos.
  • Publish us­ing a web user in­ter­face. Markdown is wel­come.
  • Built-in sup­port for an RSS/Atom feed.
  • Well-maintained with a good out­look for a few years min­i­mum.
  • Free or costs up to $50 one-time.

KirbyCMS (Andy Bell is a big fan) seems in­ter­est­ing though it seems like it will be a lot of work on top of pay­ing about $70. I’m also not sure how sta­ble its plu­gin ecosys­tem is. Similarly, OctoberCMS, based on Laravel, seems in­ter­est­ing but so. much. work.

CraftCMS looks like it could fit the bill the most.

Conclusion.

Any CMS leaves me open to the same is­sue again: host­ing costs.

It’s no won­der peo­ple run to hosted, man­aged, and free so­lu­tions like Substack, Medium, and Twitter threads.

Post cover photo by Elisa Ventur on Unsplash.

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