Lately, in addition to playing around with this blog, I have been working on some other ones aligned with my non-technical interests. I’ve been playing with Hugo, one of the more hyped static website generators of late, and have been quite pleased with the results. Simply put, static websites interest me quite alot because they are so simple - to think that an entire functioning website can exist almost entirely as code. Pretty much all one needs to do today is manually set up DNS, SSL, and have a method of deployments, but there are already (free!) products that handle this for you.

Perhaps I spoke too soon?

I’m going so far as to say that this simplicity lower down on the stack will slowly bubble up to be non-programmer friendly. Wordpress, which powers 25% of the web, known for its simplicity, nevertheless has had a multitude of security issues that need to be patched constantly, even recently, despite it’s age. I mean, for me, the thought of having to deal with a database, setting up some process that deals with automatic sync to the latest security updates and deploying it, seems to be infinitely more difficult than just having the posts be generated from Markdown and not having to think about anything except the git commits going into the damned thing. Frankly, the only thing the dynamic blogs are actually /really/ needed is for the ability to have forms and comments, but this can be offloaded to modern alternatives.

So what is holding it back then? People enjoy a simple editing experience, they don’t even want to deal with code and commits, let’s be real. What I forsee, or really, what is already happening, is a building up of consumer-level concepts around static websites. One thing that caught my eye recently is Netlify CMS, which has that CMS layer of abstraction over the git repository. It has been already used to great success, resulting in a 10x increase in speed for their pilot customer. It is really quite genius, and also sort of inevitable. The existing infrastructure for auto-deployments was already there, starting with probably Github Pages, all that was needed was a way to dynamically create posts - except now the content was submitted in a git commit, instead of a database insert.

theme forest

That being said, Wordpress is pretty entrenched, technically speaking, but also in terms of the community that has grown up around it. If you want to cop a cool theme from ThemeForest, you have a mesely 22 for static website generators, as opposed to nearly 10k for Wordpress. Yes, the path towards The One True Way to Blog is a long one indeed, but I am optimistic towards the future. Though recent migrations away from Wordpress have met some success in e.g., Ghost, I think that in the long run, the most successful one will be not based on any sort of dynamic concepts, but entirely built on top of the existing static website infrastructure.