An introduction to Hugo, a static site generator


A good blogging platform

What makes a good blogging platform really good? Well, that depends on the blogger. Programmers would need different features than make-up bloggers. As a programmer, I need to be able to easily integrate pieces of code with syntax highlighting in my posts and I’d prefer writing them in my favourite text/code editor instead of in a WYSIWYG editor.


A static site generator like Jekyll fulfils (almost) all my needs as a programmer/blogger:

  • posts are written in Markdown, Textile, HTML…
  • you don’t need to setup a database and any simple web server will do the job since all you have to host is a simple, static website
  • once setup, you don’t need to think about updates etc.
  • extremely developer friendly (e.g. publish a post using the command line) and open source
  • works great with source code control

However, after a while, you start to notice the little things that make Jekyll a lot less simple than it looks like.

  • it’s written in Ruby and some of its dependencies aren’t (bug free) available on all platforms Windows
  • setting it up can be quite bothersome, again, especially on Windows


A few other static site generators have sprung up since Jekyll’s success.

The one that caught my attention was Hugo. It has all the goodness from Jekyll, but it’s way easier to setup. Hugo itself is written in Go, but they build executable binaries for a lot of platforms and architectures. So you don’t need to install anything else. Even compiling it yourself isn’t that hard.

The process of creating a new website is very similar to Jekyll. The hugo command literally explains itself (hugo help) and the documentation on its website should suffice for most users.

I’ve successfully migrated my Jekyll blog to Hugo and haven’t regretted it ever since.


One of the major disadvantages of Hugo, or any static site generator for that matter, is integrating search. You need some JavaScript magic or a 3rd party search provider like Google Custom Search Engine (which I went for).

The other dynamic part of an ordinary blog is the comment section. Again, the easiest way to fix this is relying on a 3rd party comments plugin like Disqus.

Still, these two disadvantages are easily outweighed by the advantages of a static website. Your website will survive slashdotting and the only required maintenance is literally making sure your web server stays online.