There are many static site generators out there.

The most famous and well known being, Jekyll and Octopress.

Jekyll is used by Github Pages as the default generator, while Octopress is a framework for Jekyll geared specifically for blogging. However, the reason why I decided to use Pelican over both, is because Pelican is written in Python, and therefore support the reStructuredText markup by default and is a language I feel comfortable in case I need to get down and fix the engine. One of my primary forcuses of blogging is so that I can also use it as a platform for learning more about programming. I don’t program in ruby so, I wanted to go with an all Python solution.

Enter Pelican

So Pelican became my blogging engine of choice. There are a couple other generators written with Python like Hyde and Nicola, but it seemed like Pelican was better supported and documented of the batch, so thats what I went with.


So How does it Work?

A generator is basically some arbitrary code that will output more arbitrary code.

In this case of pelican, it will take my articles written in the reStructuredText markup and then generate HTML and CSS based on the Jinja2 templating engine.

Sounds simple enough right?

Pelican utilized metadata that the user supplies in the form of a configuration file located at the root of the project directory. This configuration file helps Pelican figure out some user specific details that are necessary in order to build the webpage, very similar to how Sphinx generates documentation.

Here is a snippet of how this blog’s configuration file looks.

#!/usr/bin/env python3
# -*- coding: utf-8 -*- #
from __future__ import unicode_literals


import sys
import os
from os.path import abspath

AUTHOR = 'Sang Han'
SITENAME = 'LightQuanta'

EMAIL_ADDR = '[email protected]'

TIMEZONE = 'America/Los_Angeles'
DATE_FORMATS = {'en': '%a, %d %b %Y'}
LOCALE = 'en_US'
PATH = 'content'

    'extra/CNAME': {'path': 'CNAME'},
    'extra/robots.txt': {'path': 'robots.txt'},
OUTPUT_PATH = 'output'
ARTICLE_URL = 'blog/{date:%Y}/{date:%m}/{slug}/'
ARTICLE_SAVE_AS = 'blog/{date:%Y}/{date:%m}/{slug}/index.html'

Most of the configuration ends up setting enviornment variables that pelican will then use to set up the site. But rather than being one big conf file, it’s possible there is freedom to run executable code.


Above the generator, you have the templating language for laying out your HTML. Pelican utilizes the jinja2 templating engine, which also is the main engine for Flask, a great Pythonic alternative to the well known Django web framework. In fact, anyone with familiarity in any templating language should feel right at home getting their own site up and running with these tools.


Pelican ultimately runs on a Command Line Interface


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