Programming language: Python
License: MIT License

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Take full control of your static website/blog generation by writing your own simple, lightweight, and magic-free static site generator in Python. That's right! Reinvent the wheel!

[View Source](makesite.py) View Demo [MIT License](LICENSE.md)



This repository contains the source code of an example website containing two static blogs and a few static pages. The website can be generated by running [makesite.py](makesite.py). The output looks like this. That's it!

So go ahead, fork this repository, replace the [content](content) with your own, and generate your static website. It's that simple!

You are [free](LICENSE.md) to copy, use, and modify this project for your blog or website, so go ahead and fork this repository and make it your own project. Change the [layout](layout) if you wish to, improve the [stylesheet](static/css/style.css) to suit your taste, enhance [makesite.py](makesite.py) if you need to, and develop your website/blog just the way you want it.

But Why?

For fun and profit! Okay, maybe not for profit, but hopefully for fun.

Have you used a popular static site generator like Jekyll to generate your blog? I have too. It is simple and great. But then did you yearn to use something even simpler to generate your blog? Do you like Python? Perhaps the thought of writing your own static site generator crossed your mind but you thought it would be too much work? If you answered "yes" to these questions, then this project is for you.

With [makesite.py](makesite.py), you are in full control. There is no hidden magic! There is no need to read any documentation to understand how it works. There is no need to learn how to write configuration files to produce some desired effect.

With [makesite.py](makesite.py):

  • The code is the documentation.
  • The code is the configuration.

Everything is laid out as plain and simple Python code for you to read and enhance. It is less than 130 lines of code (excluding comments, docstrings, and blank lines). It gets you off the ground pretty quickly. You only need to execute makesite.py.

You can develop a decent website/blog within a few minutes and then you can begin tinkering with the [source code](makesite.py), the [layout](layout), and the [stylesheet](static/css/style.css) to customize the look and feel of your website to your satisfaction.

Get Started

This section provides some quick steps to get you off the ground as quickly as possible.

  1. For a quick demo on your local system, just enter this command:

    make serve

    If you don't have make but have Python 3.x, enter this command:

    python3 makesite.py
    cd _site
    python3 -m http.server

    Note: In some environments, you may need to use python instead of python3 to invoke Python 3.x.

    If you only have Python 2.7, enter this command:

    python makesite.py
    cd _site
    python -m SimpleHTTPServer

    Then visit http://localhost:8000/. It should look like this.

    Note: You can run [makesite.py](makesite.py) with Python 2.7 or Python 3.x.

  2. You may see a few Cannot render Markdown warning messages in the output of the previous command. This is due to the fact that an example [blog](content/blog) in this project has a few posts written in Markdown. To render them correctly, install the commonmark package with this command:

    pip install commonmark

    Then try the previous step again.

  3. For an Internet-facing website, you would be hosting the static website/blog on a hosting service and/or with a web server such as Apache HTTP Server, Nginx, etc. You probably only need to generate the static files and know where the static files are and move them to your hosting location.

    If you have the make command, enter this command to generate your website:

    make site

    If you don't have make but have python3, enter this command:

    python3 makesite.py

    Note: In some environments, you may need to use python instead of python3 to invoke Python 3.x.

    If you only have python, enter this command:

    python makesite.py

    The _site directory contains the entire generated website. The content of this directory may be copied to your website hosting location.

The Code

Now that you know how to generate the static website that comes with this project, it is time to see what [makesite.py](makesite.py) does. You probably don't really need to read the entire section. The source code is pretty self-explanatory but just in case, you need a detailed overview of what it does, here are the details:

  1. The main() function is the starting point of website generation. It calls the other functions necessary to get the website generation done.

  2. First it creates a fresh new _site directory from scratch. All files in the [static directory](static) are copied to this directory. Later the static website is generated and written to this directory.

  3. Then it creates a params dictionary with some default parameters. This dictionary is passed around to other functions. These other functions would pick values from this dictionary to populate placeholders in the layout template files.

    Let us take the subtitle parameter for example. It is set to our example website's fictitious brand name: "Lorem Ipsum". We want each page to include this brand name as a suffix in the title. For example, the about page has "About - Lorem Ipsum" in its title. Now take a look at the [page layout template](layout/page.html) that is used as the layout for all pages in the static website. This layout file uses the {{ subtitle }} syntax to denote that it is a placeholder that should be populated while rendering the template.

    Another interesting thing to note is that a content file can override these parameters by defining its own parameters in the content header. For example, take a look at the content file for the [home page](content/_index.html). In its content header, i.e., the HTML comments at the top with key-value pairs, it defines a new parameter named title and overrides the subtitle parameter.

    We will discuss the syntax for placeholders and content headers later. It is quite simple.

  4. It then loads all the layout templates. There are 6 of them in this project.

  - [layout/page.html](layout/page.html): It contains the base
    template that applies to all pages. It begins with
    `<!DOCTYPE html>` and `<html>`, and ends with `</html>`. The
    `{{ content }}` placeholder in this template is replaced with
    the actual content of the page. For example, for the about page,
    the `{{ content }}` placeholder is replaced with the the entire
    content from [content/about.html](content/about.html). This is
    done with the `make_pages()` calls further down in the code.

  - [layout/post.html](layout/post.html): It contains the template
    for the blog posts. Note that it does not begin with `<!DOCTYPE
    html>` and does not contain the `<html>` and `</html>` tags.
    This is not a complete standalone template. This template
    defines only a small portion of the blog post pages that are
    specific to blog posts.  It contains the HTML code and the
    placeholders to display the title, publication date, and author
    of blog posts.

    This template must be combined with the
    [page layout template](layout/page.html) to create the final
    standalone template. To do so, we replace the `{{ content }}`
    placeholder in the [page layout template](layout/page.html) with
    the HTML code in the [post layout template](layout/post.html) to
    get a final standalone template. This is done with the
    `render()` calls further down in the code.

    The resulting standalone template still has a `{{ content }}`
    placeholder from the [post layout template](layout/post.html)
    template.  This `{{ content }}` placeholder is then replaced
    with the actual content from the [blog posts](content/blog).

  - [layout/list.html](layout/list.html): It contains the template
    for the blog listing page, the page that lists all the posts in
    a blog in reverse chronological order. This template does not do
    much except provide a title at the top and an RSS link at the
    bottom.  The `{{ content }}` placeholder is populated with the
    list of blog posts in reverse chronological order.

    Just like the [post layout template](layout/post.html) , this
    template must be combined with the
    [page layout template](layout/page.html) to arrive at the final
    standalone template.

  - [layout/item.html](layout/item.html): It contains the template
    for each blog post item in the blog listing page. The
    `make_list()` function renders each blog post item with this
    template and inserts them into the
    [list layout template](layout/list.html) to create the blog
    listing page.

  - [layout/feed.xml](layout/feed.xml): It contains the XML template
    for RSS feeds. The `{{ content }}` placeholder is populated with
    the list of feed items.

  - [layout/item.xml](layout/item.xml): It contains the XML template for
    each blog post item to be included in the RSS feed. The
    `make_list()` function renders each blog post item with this
    template and inserts them into the
    [layout/feed.xml](layout/feed.xml) template to create the
    complete RSS feed.
  1. After loading all the layout templates, it makes a render() call to combine the [post layout template](layout/post.html) with the [page layout template](layout/page.html) to form the final standalone post template.

    Similarly, it combines the [list layout template](layout/list.html) template with the [page layout template](layout/page.html) to form the final list template.

  2. Then it makes two make_pages() calls to render the home page and a couple of other site pages: the [contact page](content/contact.html) and the [about page](content/about.html).

  3. Then it makes two more make_pages() calls to render two blogs: one that is named simply [blog](content/blog) and another that is named [news](content/news).

    Note that the make_pages() call accepts three positional arguments:

  - Path to content source files provided as a glob pattern.
  - Output path template as a string.
  - Layout template code as a string.

These three positional arguments are then followed by keyword
arguments. These keyword arguments are used as template parameters
in the output path template and the layout template to replace the
placeholders with their corresponding values.

As described in point 2 above, a content file can override these
parameters in its content header.
  1. Then it makes two make_list() calls to render the blog listing pages for the two blogs. These calls are very similar to the make_pages() calls. There are only two things that are different about the make_list() calls:
  - There is no point in reading the same blog posts again that were
    read by `make_pages()`, so instead of passing the path to
    content source files, we feed a chronologically reverse-sorted
    index of blog posts returned by `make_pages()` to `make_list()`.
  - There is an additional argument to pass the
    [item layout template](layout/item.html) as a string.
  1. Finally it makes two more make_list() calls to generate the RSS feeds for the two blogs. There is nothing different about these calls than the previous ones except that we use the feed XML templates here to generate RSS feeds.

To recap quickly, we create a _site directory to write the static site generated, define some default parameters, load all the layout templates, and then call make_pages() to render pages and blog posts with these templates, call make_list() to render blog listing pages and RSS feeds. That's all!

Take a look at how the make_pages() and make_list() functions are implemented. They are very simple with less than 20 lines of code each. Once you are comfortable with this code, you can begin modifying it to add more blogs or reduce them. For example, you probably don't need a news blog, so you may delete the make_pages() and make_list() calls for 'news' along with its content at [content/news](content/news).


In this project, the layout template files are located in the [layout directory](layout). But they don't necessarily have to be there. You can place the layout files wherever you want and update [makesite.py](makesite.py) accordingly.

The source code of [makesite.py](makesite.py) that comes with this project understands the notion of placeholders in the layout templates. The template placeholders have the following syntax:

{{ <key> }}

Any whitespace before {{, around <key>, and after }} is ignored. The <key> should be a valid Python identifier. Here is an example of template placeholder:

{{ title }}

This is a very simple template mechanism that is implemented already in the [makesite.py](makesite.py). For a simple website or blog, this should be sufficient. If you need a more sophisticated template engine such as Jinja2 or Cheetah, you need to modify [makesite.py](makesite.py) to add support for it.


In this project, the content files are located in the [content directory](content). Most of the content files are written in HTML. However, the content files for the blog named [blog](content/blog) are written in Markdown.

The notion of headers in the content files is supported by [makesite.py](makesite.py). Each content file may begin with one or more consecutive HTML comments that contain headers. Each header has the following syntax:

<!-- <key>: <value> -->

Any whitespace before, after, and around the <!--, <key>, :, <value>, and --> tokens are ignored. Here are some example headers:

<!-- title: About -->
<!-- subtitle: Lorem Ipsum -->
<!-- author: Admin -->

It looks for the headers at the top of every content file. As soon as some non-header text is encountered, the rest of the content from that point is not checked for headers.

By default, placeholders in content files are not populated during rendering. This behaviour is chosen so that you can write content freely without having to worry about makesite interfering with the content, i.e., you can write something like {{ title }} in the content and makesite would leave it intact by default.

However if you do want to populate the placeholders in a content file, you need to specify a parameter named render with value of yes. This can be done in two ways:

  • Specify the parameter in a header in the content file in the following manner:

    <!-- render: yes -->
  • Specify the parameter as a keyword argument in make_pages call. For example:

    blog_posts = make_pages('content/blog/*.md',
                            '_site/blog/{{ slug }}/index.html',
                            post_layout, blog='blog', render='yes',


Here are some frequently asked questions along with answers to them:

  1. Can you add feature X to this project?

    I do not have any plans to add new features to this project. It is intended to be as minimal and as simple as reasonably possible. This project is meant to be a quick-starter-kit for developers who want to develop their own static site generators. Someone who needs more features is free to fork this project repository and customize the project as per their needs in their own fork.

  2. Can you add support for Jinja templates, YAML front matter, etc.?

    I will not add or accept support for Jinja templates, YAML front matter, etc. in this project. However, you can do so in your fork. The reasons are explained in the first point.

  3. Do you accept any new features from the contributors?

    I do not accept any new features in this project. The reasons are explained in the first point.

  4. Do you accept bug fixes and improvements?

    Yes, I accept bug fixes and minor improvements that do not increase the scope and complexity of this project.

  5. Are there any contribution guidelines?

    Yes, please see [CONTRIBUTING.md](CONTRIBUTING.md).

  6. How do I add my own copyright notice to the source code without violating the terms of license while customizing this project in my own fork?

    This project is released under the terms of the MIT license. One of the terms of the license is that the original copyright notice and the license text must be preserved. However, at the same time, when you edit and customize this project in your own fork, you hold the copyright to your changes. To fulfill both conditions, please add your own copyright notice above the original copyright notice and clarify that your software is a derivative of the original.

    Here is an example of such a notice where a person named J. Doe wants to reserve all rights to their changes:

    # Copyright (c) 2018-2019 J. Doe
    # All rights reserved
    # This software is a derivative of the original makesite.py.
    # The license text of the original makesite.py is included below.

    Anything similar to the above notice or something to this effect is sufficient.


Thanks to:

  • Susam Pal for the initial documentation and the initial unit tests.
  • Keith Gaughan for an improved single-pass rendering of templates.


This is free and open source software. You can use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of it, under the terms of the [MIT License](LICENSE.md).

This software is provided "AS IS", WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, express or implied. See the [MIT License](LICENSE.md) for details.


To report bugs, suggest improvements, or ask questions, please visit https://github.com/sunainapai/makesite/issues.

*Note that all licence references and agreements mentioned in the makesite README section above are relevant to that project's source code only.