Why Static Site Generators in 2020?



Back in the late 90's (to give you some context Google was founded in 1998) the web was moving rapidly from static websites (made with Microsoft Frontpage, Dreamweaver or other now obsolete HTML/CSS editors) to dynamic website.

There was Perl which was pretty awful but the PHP came. The Web was a better place, cool and dynamic.

For a blog or CMS all you needed is PHP, HTML and a backend like MySQL.

This is still valid today (with Wordpress being the most popular CMS/blogging engine) but I recently spotted a new trend in the developing community: to move from a dynamic website to a static one, using a static website generator like Hugo, or Jekyll or Gatsby.

I think that content should be hosted in a database and not on flat files like we did in the 90's. The argument that it is cheaper (or free) to host your personal page as a static website might be correct but the current cost of hosting or having your own server seems like a no brainier for a software developer.

I see several downsides in using a static website vs a dynamic one:

  1. Flat files are slower than databases and very messy;

  2. Recompile the whole site at every step is a waste of time and highly inefficient;

  3. Speed increase is doubtful : Unless you have really a lot of traffic a dynamic website will be as fast;

  4. No forms, no dynamic comments, nothing.

  5. No Admin interface, back to just to files;

Whilst I see some of the benefits I am unsure on why web developers -- that have both the expertise -- do not spend some time developing a dynamic website but limit themselves with a static one. The only reasonable explanation I can find is possibly the ease of deployment (after all is just HTML files) but hosting with a small instance is so cheap that I feel that the advantages of a dynamic website are worth the effort.

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