Javier Gonel

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After some years using Wordpress, and some attempts at static blog generators I've switched to Flask. If you want to know why, keep reading. If you just want to see the code, click here.

Dynamic blog generators.

The first versions were based on Wordpress. It had some things I didn't like much:

  • Keeping an eye on wordpress vulnerabilities and wordpress plugin vulnerabilities.
  • All my posts were almost the same but Wordpress way of editing posts made me fight even for simple things with the WYSIWYG editor.
  • Wordpress templates are easy, but are based on what Wordpress thinks a template should be. You might want to organize things in another way: different problems, different solutions.

I could have:

  • Used the hosted wordpress to forget about version updates.
  • Bought a personalized wordpress template.
  • Swallow it and accept the editor (or even try a new one).

It was clear for me that I wanted more control about my homepage.

Static blog/page generators

Static blog generators give you almost the same flexibility as dynamic ones. These days is common to see many blogs moved to Octopress/Jekyll. And even other good tools like Middleman for full static sites.

I looked for something more... python. Again, there are a lot of static site generators in python. I ended up trying two:

At the time I checked Nikola it needed some extra plugins to do what I wanted but the code was clean. Pelican was ready to use, but code was a bit messy. The future of Nikola seems to have as many plugins as pelican, and the future of pelican to have as good code base as Nikola. Good projects to keep an eye on.

In both cases you should follow the tools and structure defined by the engines. If you want to do something more, you should use a plugin (Pelican had all I needed). If you want to do something different, you need to read the code.

Every tool enforces some patterns. It's something good to start with if you don't know where to start. But web frameworks don't impose so many things (only some). General purpose web frameworks leave you enough space to build almost any web site/application you want.

Also my old friend @jcea said: If you build your site well enough you can always wget it and make it static.


Another friend, @oscarmlage, told me about his blog engine running with flask: flask-htmlblog and other very interesting flask plugins.

Flask had all the plugins I needed, and also has a “wget” plugin called freezer. It is simple to use and uses jinja2 (like pelican). I had the site running with pelican, it took me a couple hours to move it to flask.


The rest is some code for the views and the project structure. Check the source!.

Problems found

Python 3.

Some libraries needed 2to3. I hope to have time to commit back the python 3 compatibility.

Special static files

There are some static files like robots.txt, humans.txt and even an .htaccess needed for apache. For these files I added an extra step after freezing the site.

def copy_extra():
    """Copy files from extra folder to the root"""
    extra_path = os.path.join(APP.root_path, 'extra')
    for item in os.listdir(extra_path):
        src = os.path.join(extra_path, item)
        dst = os.path.join(FREEZER.root, item)
        shutil.copyfile(src, dst)

Also in the freezing process (generating the HTML files), I need to copy some files from one bower component: bootstrap fonts.

FREEZER = Freezer(APP, with_static_files=False)

def bootstrap_fonts():
    """Bootstrap static files included in the css"""
    fonts_dir = os.path.join('bower_components', 'bootstrap', 'fonts')
    fonts = os.path.join(APP.static_folder, fonts_dir)
    for name in os.listdir(fonts):
        yield 'static', {'filename': os.path.join(fonts_dir, name)}

Image handling

The site needs to notify the freezer that an image in a page/post is being used. Images are inserted via markdown, so a markdown plugin did the job by running url_for in each image in the markdown content.

There is an extra route to serve those images from the folder containing the blog post.

def flat_page_content(path, filename):
    """flat pages content (static) rendering"""
    page = PAGES.get_or_404(path)
    path = os.path.join(APP.root_path, 'blog', os.path.dirname(path))
    return send_from_directory(path, filename)

Next steps


I wanted to make the comments available as static content for search engine crawlers. At the time of writing I have a pending pull request in the disqus API bindings for python in order to add python 3.3 support (and tests).


The flask-ZODB plugin didn't want to work with python 3. So I created something similar. I must say that Flask can be extended really easily, Kudos!

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