The Pros and Cons of Using a Static Site Generator

Posted by Mischa Fisher in Technology   
Sat 12 September 2015

In a recent effort to re-gear this site toward the quantitative and away from the strictly artistic, I rebuilt the site from scratch with one singular aim: make posting effortless. In that spirit, I was directed by a good friend toward static site generators; a new development in the 8 or so years since I had last looked at any of the technologies surrounding web development.

With the new site up and running, here is a brief list of the pros and cons, as I see them, of using a static site generator:


  1. Effortless posting:

Write posts in Markdown, then upload with a few keystrokes straight from the terminal.

  1. Cheap and scalable hosting:

I'm using Amazon's S3 for hosting, and Route 53 for DNS services. They're almost free in low traffic, and infinitely scalable in high traffic.

  1. No backend to maintain:

PHP, SQL, and the slow load times and unresponsiveness of shared servers on most hosting plans are a thing of the past. (I'm looking at you

  1. Easy to backup or migrate:

I have all the website files in the location of my laptop being backedup to Dropbox in realtime. In addition, version control through something like Git is also handy, particularly when messing around with the underlying Python scripts that generate the site.


  1. Steep learning curve:

The list of technologies one has to look at include: HTML, CSS, Python, JavaScript, Markdown, the unix terminal, Pelican, FontAwesome, Jinja, Bootstrap, s3cmd, pip, brew, and virtual environments.

  1. Longer to get setup:

With a squarespace account you can be up and running in minutes. And it will look a lot prettier by default.

For me those were the biggest pros and cons I weighed in setting this site up. (Your mileage may vary.)