Deciding on a web platform

It has been a long time since I did much with a personal web page. Back when I did have one, it was during the days of hand-coded websites or using Dreamweaver, if you only wanted someone using Internet Explorer to be able to use you page. Life happens and my website fell into disuse and I eventually took it down. I'm now at a point in life where I have a bit more free time and think it could be fun to have a website again. I am going to want something between a blog and an informational site, as both formats have their uses and their downsides.

Unfortunately, much has changed with regard to web development since those days in the early 2000s. CMS's have taken over much of the market and, the few times over the last 5 years that I have played with one (and I have tried Wordpress, Druple, and a few others) I didn't like them very much. First, I had to remember to keep them updated in addition to their database software and PHP. Second, theming was somewhat complicated as most of them have hundreds of internal variables. I wnat to make a customized website but I'm not an official web developer. There are fairly frequent examples of plugins for the CMS's having critical vulnarabilites. Finally, I'm doing a personal website. I really don't need the complexity of multi-user management, integration with e-commerce sites, draft articles, editing workflows, etc. Plus, without having a real web-developer involved, a Wordpress site looks like a wordpress site! Oh, and lets not even talk about setting up backups of the site. Just too much work for a single guy making a personal site in his spare time!

Enter static site generators. After doing a bit of looking at minimalist CMS's and flat file sites, I came on to the idea of static site generators. These seemed to be about perfect for what I want. I write in plain text, run a program, it outputs a bunch of HTML files with appropriate links, and I upload it to a server. Simple, straight forward, only requires a server running a web host, and backing up is easy (it can be done with a a simple copy command, something like rsync, or even with a version control system like git). Overall, this seems to fit my use case much better than others.

There are a lot of static site generators (see In selecting one, I decided I wanted one written in Python. Nothing against Javascript, Ruby, and GO, but I don't have any experience with those languages and if I need to hack something or find a bug, I really want the tool I'm using to be written in a language I have a fair amount of experience with. Remember, this is a personal site for fun. Learning a new programming language does not fit into my current definition of fun. After some looking/searching, I have settled on Nikola ( as it seems to be more focused on blog/personal websites and less on generating documentation.


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