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Publishing and Beyond

Modern Web Publishing: Static Site Generators#

The digital age has ushered in significant advancements in publishing1, with online platforms emerging as rapid, accessible, and efficient means of content dissemination. The Caxton Celebration - William Caxton showing specimens of his printing to King Edward IV and his Queen The Caxton Celebration - William Caxton introducing his printing techniques to King Edward IV and his Queen. Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain.

Static Site Generators#

Modern web publishing has seen a rise in the popularity of static site generators. These tools pre-generate all pages of a website, reducing server load and increasing site speed. Among them, MkDocs and Hugo stand out, though there are numerous others.


MkDocs2 is known for its efficient system that generates HTML suitable for any web server. It offers enhanced security through its HTML-only rendering, significantly reducing vulnerabilities that hackers might exploit.


Hugo is another formidable static site generator. Written in Go, Hugo is renowned for its speed, rendering content in fractions of a second. It supports content written in Markdown and boasts a robust theme system.

'Bare Bones' CMS#

Static site generators, like MkDocs and Hugo, maintain a separation between the presentation and content layers, mirroring the functionalities of content management systems (CMS). Due to their reliance on plain HTML files without the need for server-side processing, websites developed using these tools are remarkably fast.

HTML in the Age of Static Sites#

HTML3 remains the foundational markup language for web content. Efficiently processed by servers such as APACHE, HTML-based flat-file websites often outpace their more intricate, dynamic counterparts in speed.

While platforms like Hugo and MkDocs use Markdown as their primary content format, they generate HTML directly for server upload. This approach contrasts with systems that rely on PHP scripts or MySQL databases, offering added security against potential hacking threats.

However, the static nature of these generators means manual site building and uploading for updates. Some might view this as a limitation, especially when compared to dynamic CMS like WordPress. But the swift operation of static site generators often negates this perceived drawback.

Static site generators do face challenges in dynamic processing and module support. However, with the increasing availability of external web applications and integrations, many of these limitations can be overcome.

  1. E-books have grown in popularity, with devices like the Amazon Kindle becoming household names. These digital readers not only champion environmental conservation but also offer unparalleled convenience. With the ability to store thousands of titles on a single device, they've revolutionized reading habits globally. 

  2. MkDocs is a unique content management system, emphasizing a 'separation' between presentation and content. It achieves this through Python scripting and style sheets. While MkDocs allows for dynamic content creation via an included local server, it ultimately generates HTML for live server uploads. 

  3. Hypertext Markup Language, or HTML, is the bedrock of web content creation. Together with Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and JavaScript, it forms the trinity of essential web technologies.