Nanoc is a flexible static-site generator.
A static-site generator, often abbreviated as SSG, is a tool that transforms content from one format, such as Markdown or AsciiDoc, into another format, usually HTML, and lays out pages so that the site’s look and feel is consistent across all pages. Static sites can be deployed to any web server.
Nanoc is not:
- a CMS
- It does not help in managing content; it merely processes it. Management of content is usually done on the file system.
- a web application
- Nanoc is a command-line application. With Nanoc, developing sites happens on a local machine, and the generated site is deployed when it is finished.
Because Nanoc is a programmable tool, a basic understanding of Ruby is quite helpful.
Why static-site generators?
Static-site generators have several advantages over classical content management systems:
- Static files can be served fast. There is no database or templating layer that slows requests down. Additionally, web servers will automatically set caching headers (such as
Last-Modified) for static files, which reduce bandwidth usage.
- Static sites do not contain dynamic content, and are therefore immune to most common attacks.
- Because static sites are developed locally, you can play around with the site to your heart’s content without affecting the live site.
- Static-site generators commonly store their content in flat text files. This makes them ideal to be used with version control system, such as Git. Because of this, many sites built with static-site generators are open-source.
Nanoc is suitable for a wide variety of sites, including personal blogs, portfolios, and product websites. Some unique features of Nanoc include:
- support for free-form metadata
- support for various markup languages (Markdown, AsciiDoc, Textile, …)
- support for various templating languages (eRuby, Haml, Mustache, …)
- ability to write custom filters and helpers
- ability to pull in data from other sources (databases, web APIs, …)
- integration with various deployment mechanisms
- ability to run pre-deployment checks
Some of the sites built with Nanoc include the GitHub Developer site, the Prometheus site and the Spree documentation site.
Programmability combined with free-form metadata is what makes Nanoc flexible. It is agnostic to what content you provide; with metadata you can turn pages into articles, chapters, review, recipes, and more, and have them processed in specialized ways. Nothing in Nanoc is predefined, so it gives the power to build sites that meet their goals perfectly.
There are several static-site generators floating around. Some of them are like Nanoc, and some of them aren’t similar at all. If Nanoc doesn’t fulfill your needs, see this list of static-site generators.