Brandon Anzaldi

In Praise of Eleventy

Estimated reading time
366 words, ~2 minute read
eleventy static sites

Finding a well and truly simple static site generator, one that will let me work in my own way, has been a surprising challenge. However, Eleventy has proven to be a breath of fresh air.

So, for yet another time, I was trying to re-setup my website, and I found it astoundingly hard to have a static site framework get out of my way, and just let me work from scratch. I tried Hexo, Hugo, and Gatsby, but to start with essentially blank HTML, I had to work within their confines, or strip down another theme, then customize it my way. Many included Disqus, which I have no interest in including here. (Instead, this site uses self-hosted Commento) or Google Analytics as part of their basic setup, and it's just not something I wanted to include.

When I'm working, I always feel like adding new features is faster than taking away existing features. I know the code I'm adding intimately. Moreso than if I'm having to learn someone else's code, and add my own on top. It felt like every static site generator had some degree of clunkiness that made it hard to work within. However, with the recent COVID-19 outbreak shining a site on many emergency sites relying on heavy CMSes like Wordpress, and the like, Max Böck's article on a kit for emergency websites brought my attention to Eleventy.

Perhaps using Hugo/Gatsby/Hexo would have been worthwhile to get over the learning curve, but to just get started, and easily start working on my own new features, Eleventy was refreshingly easy to start up with. Their blog starter seemed to be extremely intuitive, with few to no magic files hiding functionality, or serving as landmines if you refactor one part of it. All in all, Eleventy served as a refreshing static site generator, and made it extremely easy to be productive with my existing knowledge of template engines, and is modular enough adding more sophisticated functionality is hardly a huge task.

I look forward to seeing where I can take this new Eleventy blog, and if I can finally get to a point where I can write with a decent cadence. Thanks for reading!

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