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Top 5 Static Site Generators in 2022

Static sites are back again! Howbeit, today's static websites are not straightway static, they incorporate dynamic elements and functionality with the latest architecture and technology. Static websites have lots of benefits over their dynamic counterparts. Many are shifting to static from dynamic for faster loading times, better overall site performance, high-end security, better hosting solutions, and so forth. 

On top of that, JAMstack static site provides a means to have a static website without sacrificing the dynamic functionality that usually lies within a dynamic website. 

In recent times, the JAMstack is one of the most burning topics in the web development sphere and a big part of it is static site generators. Static Site Generators are going to be the next big thing for building astonishing static websites.

Here is a guide to show you what is static site generators are, why are they important, and the top 5 static site generators in 2022...

Let's Explore...

What Is a Static Site Generator(SSG)?

A static site generator is a tool or software application to generate full static websites based on pre-built HTML templates, components, or raw data. These SSGs make it easy to build a website, design or style it, create any type of content, publish webpages and updates as needed. Static site generators render websites to the end-user in the build time instead of waiting until a page is requested.

Why SSGs are Important?

Fundamentally to create a static website developers don't need a website builder, generator, or content management system. Static websites consist of really simple coding of HTML and CSS. Anyone with proper knowledge of coding can build a static site with hand-coded HTML and CSS files. However, It's not an efficient way to create a fully-functional and enterprise-level website. 

As technology evolves, so does the way of building static websites. Static site generators are alternative ways of the traditional development process. Static site generators present state-of-the-art methodology and advantages for developing static websites.

Static site generators automate the task of coding and provide a competitive publishing platform to front-end developers. SSGs templates save up the effort and time of coding every single element and help to avoid formatting the files over and over. The generated webpages are deployed to web servers, whenever the user makes a request, the server responds with rendered HTML.

Top 5 Static Site Generators

With the increasing popularity of JAMstack, Static Site Generators are becoming more and more popular. Here is a list of the top 5 Static Site Generators.

  • Next.js 
  • Hugo
  • Gatsby
  • Jekyll
  • Nuxt.js

Next.js

Next.js is a JavaScript framework for building static websites, single-page web applications, Progressive Web Apps, and server-rendered apps. It is a perfect tool for building blazing fast and SEO-friendly JAMstack websites. It is one of the fastest-growing React frameworks.

Introducing Next as a static site generator might be wrong or misleading because it allows building statically pre-rendered sites as well as server-side rendering.  

Key Features of Next.js:

  • It is built in React and Backed by Vercel
  • Next.js requires both the React.js framework and the Node.js environment to run on.
  • Next.js supports server-side rendering by default.
  • It allows you to create a static HTML website and deploy it on a static website hosting like a GitHub page or Netlify.
  • Next.js facilitates developers with full control over front-end customization.
  • Next.js comes with its own routers with zero configs. You don’t need any extra configuration of your routers.
  • Next.js offers a variety of built-in tools for routing, state, code-splitting, and more that make it easier to build a React SPA.

Websites Powered By Next.js: Next.js powers so many giant company's websites such as Uber, Patreon, Binance, Realtor, Trip, GitHub CoPilot, Deliveroo, etc. and so on.

To learn more visit the official website: https://nextjs.org/

Hugo

Hugo is an open-source static site generator. It was created back in 2013 and designed with Go. Go is an open-source language created by Google. Hugo is easy to install, set up and use.

It claims itself as the world's fastest framework for building websites. This claim is undoubtedly justifiable because it allows generating a site at a super-fast speed with build times less than 1ms per page. And the average site builds in less than a second.

Key Features of Hugo:

  • Written in Go language 
  • Build-speed is amazingly fast
  • Provides full i18n support for multi-language sites
  • Offers a large number of pre-built themes so that you can choose a perfect one that will be a good fit for your website and get started in no time. 
  • Hugo comes with built-in templates. These pre-made common patterns help to implement common site-building tasks easily and quickly such as SEO tags, commenting, analytics, and other functions. 
  • Hugo provides a flexible content management system. It supports unlimited content types and you can have taxonomies, menus, dynamic API-driven content, and more on your site without plugins
  • Hugo's Data-Driven Content” feature allows you to output your content in multiple formats. You can provide your data in CSV or JSON formats. It allows you to import existing CSV or JSON formats data while building your site.
  • Hugo reusable shortcodes make itself flexible and more convenient

Websites Powered By Hugo: Popular company's websites like  Buzzvil, Braincube, NetApp, KeyCDN, Let's Encrypt are powered by Hugo. 

To learn more visit the official website: https://gohugo.io/

Gatsby

Gatsby is another JavaScript-framework-based SSG. It is built on the popular React.js framework and makes use of GraphQL to pull data from different sources. It is the most influential static site generator in the JAMstack developer community. Gatsby provides lots of advantages and almost everything you need to employ an impressive digital experience on your website or app. Gatsby is compatible to build websites with any CMS, API, or database.

It offers a great user interface, blazing performance, community-driven plugin architecture, top-notch SEO, security integrations, accessibility, scalability, and so on. With Gatsby Starter templates, plugins, and themes you can build your website in hours.

Key Features of Gatsby:

  • Reactjs framework makes it simple to create progressive single-page applications and interactive user interfaces with reusable UI components
  • Use GraphQL to manage site data and combine data from multiple sources
  • Gatsby has a rich plugin ecosystem, for almost every functionality you will find a plugin to help
  • Gatsby is top of the game for its speed, it offers faster build time, faster page loading speed, and faster content creation ability. It presents a better performance by loading only the parts of a website that are required to render at a given time and it pre-fetches resources for the next pages.
  • Gatsby Cloud service makes it easier to build and host your static sites. It also works with Netlify. 
  • Excellent community support and detailed documentation, pre-built solutions, huge resources make it developer-friendly, It is considered as an entry point into the Jamstack for new developers. and the most suitable SSG for new developers and Jamstack beginners.
  • Gatsby allows you to work with the latest web technologies and gives you access to many APIs

Websites Powered By Gatsby: A large developer community, tech companies, agencies utilizing Gatsby actively. 470 companies reportedly use Gatsby. To name a few of these are: Snapchat, Tinder, ReactJS, National Geography, Figma, etc.

To learn more visit the official website: https://www.gatsbyjs.com/

Jekyll

Jekyll is probably the oldest static site generator. It is completely free and open source. This static site generator is built on Ruby. It was released in 2008 and designed by GitHub's co-founder Tom Preston-Werner. This tool is also beginners friendly and it is a good choice for Ruby on Rails developers. It allows developers to build a website quickly and easily. Its popularity accelerates the growth of JAMstack and the concept of producing SSGs. 

You can use Jekyll to build a broad range of websites however it is mostly used for static websites and blogs. It is known as a simple, blog-centric straightforward SSG. One of its notable features is Jekyll static site can be hosted on GitHub for free and Github Pages are powered by Jekyll. 

Key Features of Jekyll:

  • Jekyll is written in the Ruby programming language.
  • Jekyll is a Blog-aware site generator. 
  • Free hosting with GitHub Pages
  • Migrating to Jekyll from another platform is very easy. There is a wide range of importers and You can easily import your old blog or site from other platforms to Jekyll.
  • Jekyll supports Markdown languages and multiple Markdown rendering engines. You can specify which engine to use in the site's configuration.
  • Jekyll uses the Liquid templating language to process the template. Jekyll templates and liquid templating make static site building so easy that static sites are ready for deployment at your fingertips.
  • It is simple, lightweight, easy-to-use. 

Websites Powered By Jekyll: Jekyll powers much big companies' websites. A few of them are Ruby on Rails, Sketch, and Spotify for Developer, Ionic Framework, UN World Statistics, GitHub On-Demand Training, IBM MobileFirst Foundation, etc.

To learn more visit the official website: https://jekyllrb.com/

Nuxt.js

Nuxt.js is a framework for creating Vue. js applications. This minimalistic framework is inspired by Next.js. Nuxt.js supports both server rendering and statically generated content. Same as Next.js, we cant address it a as pure static site generator because it can function as either an SSR framework for building SPAs or as an SSG.

Nuxt.js is designed as a multifunctional front-end framework and referred to as a “meta-framework” for universal applications. It offers lots of advantages to developers o create powerful applications. And the most notable advantage is improved meta tags managing and SEO improvement with its server-side rendering feature. 

Nuxt.js also integrates with other development tools named Webpack, Babel.js, and Node.js to make it competent for a great development experience and robust applications. It facilitates developers to create three distinctive types of apps Static generated pages (or pre-rendering), Single page applications, Server-side rendered apps or SSRs.

Key Features of Nuxt.js:

  • Nuxt.js has a powerful modular architecture that allows you to choose from more than 160 modules to make your development straightforward and swift.
  • It permits you to customize the webpack configuration to build your application as per your expectation. Nuxt.js uses a webpack-bundle-analyzer to let you visualize your bundles and how to optimize them. 
  • It has an automatic routing feature that makes it easier and faster to create one. Nuxt.js automatically generates the Vue-router configuration and you never have to write a router config.
  • Nuxt.js also gives automatic code-splitting for all your routes and no extra configuration is needed.
  • Nuxt.js bundles the following: Vue 2, Vue Router, Vuex, Vue Server Renderer, and vue-meta.
  • It is free to use and backed by open-source community support
  • It comes with integrated state management (Vuex)
  • By default, Nuxt is configured to cover most use cases which encourages a quick and easy start for new projects.

Websites Powered By Nuxt.js:  Here are a few top-rated websites that are using Nuxt.js:  Upwork, CDNJS, Ecosia, Asus, and Alibaba.ir, Stackoverflow.co, Unilever, JPL NASA, Monopo London, ZernoniaGlobal Maintainer Summit etc.

To learn more visit the official website: https://nuxtjs.org/

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Wrap-Up Discussion

Not to mention, JAMstack static sites are becoming more and more popular. And here static site generator is the major part of the JAMstack development. Each static site generator has its own set of characteristics, highlights, and challenges. 

You should consider the following aspects while choosing a static site generator for your next project. your own technical ability, ease of use, simplicity, type of content it supports, base languages, tools availability, community support, resources, and so on and so forth. 

For example: If you're focusing on speed then Hugo would be best for you. If you are familiar and knowledgeable in a specific programming language then choose an SSG that is built on your known language or platform so that you can get started fast and build your site more efficiently.

The above-mentioned SSGs all are free and open-source, so start exploring right now and pick the most suitable one for your next undertaking.

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