I have spent numerous hours tinkering with my personal website. It started off as HTML pages generated from text files, then I tried iWeb, then HTML pages generated from data in Filemaker's ''Bento'', then Joomla, then back to iWeb, and currently it's HTML pages statically generated from text files. This time I've rearranged the deck chairs to make the website more blog-like, and to enable multiple paths to the same page.
Why static generation rather than using something dynamic like Wordpress
or Drupal or Joomla? Those are good tools for
the right website, but the static approach reduces worries about keeping
one's website secure, about having to apply updates to the software
running the website. The static approach is likely to be faster, less
demanding on the web server, but that hasn't been a concern to me at
Having the website defined as text files on one's local machine
rather in MySQL database tables is a lot easier to backup, and also
less at risk at being locked into one particular technology.
I can edit the website from the comfort of my
iPad while I'm
lapsitting our cat Tabitha. The website can be re-structured by
moving and renaming files and directories around. The text files
have a simplistic format so I can just type away, and most of the
text is content.
So why not use one of the established static website generators
like Jekyll or Hugo?
Those are also good tools for the right website, with plenty of
functionality. One answer is computing is a hobby of mine, and
implementing a website generator is fun in its way to me. None of
the static website generators give quite what I'm after, and while
they might be customised to do so in terms of plugins and templates
the learning curve looks as steep as writing one's own simple
Another answer is that these tools to me are about flexibility and
configurability. I wanted something which was deliberately limited
and constraining, which would dissuade me from being too clever.
So an analogy might be I'd take an automatic car over one with
a manual gearbox, being able to choose which gear I'm in doesn't
interest me so much as getting from A to B.
There is the minor question of whether anyone else reads the
pages on my website, or whether it's like all the blogs out
there with zero comments. When I've blundered (like failing
to replace the default text on iWeb pages, or got the
formatting wrong) I take some comfort in thinking no-one may
have seen my misdeed. But it's rare for people to report mistakes
on websites, they normally just move on.