A static site generator is a tool that generates a full, static HTML website based on raw data and a set of templates. It automates the task of coding individual HTML pages and gets those pages ready to serve to users. Because the HTML pages are prebuilt, they load very quickly in users' browsers.
Static sites work particularly well for documentation, too, because static sites are easy to scale, and they're an easy way to generate, maintain, and deploy your project's documentation. For these reasons, organizations often use them to document application programming interfaces (APIs), database schemas, and other information. Documentation is an important part of software development, design, and other aspects of tech. All codebases require some form of documentation, with options ranging from a simple README to full documentation.
Eleventy: A static site generator
Its features include:
- Easy setup
Eleventy requires Node.js. On Linux, you can install Node.js using your package manager:
$ sudo dnf install nodejs
If your package manager doesn't have Node.js available, or if you're not on Linux, you can install it from the Node.js website.
Once Node.js is installed, use it to install Eleventy:
$ npm install -g @11ty/eleventy
Build a static site for your documentation
Now you can start using Eleventy to build your static documentation site. Here are the steps to follow.
1. Create a package.json file
To install Eleventy into your project, you need a package.json file:
$ npm init -y
2. Install Eleventy into package.json
Install and save Eleventy into your project's
package.json by running:
$ npm install-save-dev @11ty/eleventy
3. Run Eleventy
npx command to run your local project's version of Eleventy. After you verify installation went as expected, try to run Eleventy:
$ npx @11ty/eleventy
4. Create some templates
Now run two commands to create two new template files (an HTML and a Markdown file):
$ cat << EOF >> index.html
$ echo '# Page header' > index.md
This compiles any content templates in the current directory or subdirectories into the output folder (which defaults to
eleventy --serve to start a development web server.
$ npx @11ty/eleventy-serve
http://localhost:8080/README/ in the web browser of your choice to see your Eleventy output.
Then upload the files in
_site to your web server to publish your site for the world to see.
Eleventy is a static site generator that's easy to use, template, and theme. If you're already using Node.js in your development workflow, Eleventy may be a more natural fit than Jekyll or Hugo. It provides great results quickly and saves you from complex site design and maintenance. To learn more about using Eleventy, read through its documentation.
This is based on Building a technical documentation static site for open source projects, which first appeared on Nwokocha Wisdom Maduabuchi's Medium site, and is republished with permission.