Thoughts on web programming and the world of technology

January 22, 2011, reading time: about one minute

How My Website Works

I’m sure you’ve heard of static site generators like Jekyll (Ruby) or Hyde (Python). The benefits are obvious - your site is hosted on a cheap shared hosting and it can easily survive the Digg/Slashdot/Reddit effect. There is no database latency - the browser requests a file on the server and gets it back immediately.

Update (2011-02-27):

While I still use a static generator to power my site, it’s not a different engine. I got tired of launching a django server just to write a post. I wrote a new static site generator called Socrates. Each post is now a separate file written in Markdown. Socrates then runs through those files and creates a site for me. I’m still using django templates. What follows is the original post.


The site is a simple django blog. There is nothing really of note when it comes to django-specific coding. I run the django server locally when I’m editing or adding articles. It provides a nice UI. It also lets me easily preview the site without generating anything.

static generator

When I’m happy with the state of the website and want to publish it, I run the static generator. It’s contained in the file. It runs through all possible urls and for each one it generates a static file. Each file is a complete HTML page that the user’s browser will download. The folder structure is as follows:


You get the idea. This way, with an .htaccess file we can have the following URL structure:


FTP deploy script

And the final piece is the script. It looks at the deploy directory, and with a little help from git, it figures out what files were changed since the last deploy. It then takes those files and throws them up on the server. A normal shared hosting.


You can check out the code on Github.