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Static Website Generators
Static website generators have been gaining popularity for a couple years now. Mathias Biilmann Christensen, CEO of Netlify (a static hosting platform), going so far as to claim, “Static website generators are the next big thing.” While this may be a bold statement given the popularity of WordPress and other dynamic CMS’s (Content Management Systems), he does give some very good reasons why going static may be the way of the future.
Dynamic sites can be overly complex and at risk to exploits, and the performance benefit of a static site is a no brainer. Most dynamic sites get around this with caching, but Mathais says, “Even with a highly optimized dynamic website, the static version is more than six times as fast on average!” Static sites also have the potential of taking advantage of a CDN (Content Delivery Network), which improves performance based on your location. Use this tool to test a website’s performance around the world!
One enterprise level CMS used by many in the A&M system is Hannon Hill’s Cascade CMS. In a lot of ways, Cascade is very similar to a static website generator (but at risk of causing controversy I won’t go so far as to call it one). When a user publishes a page in Cascade, it places static HTML files on a server for the website. What Cascade gives users, that a lot of the more modern static site generators don’t, is a backend for content editing with a standard WYSIWYG (What You See is What You Get) editor. The College of Architecture is in the process of moving our websites from a dynamic CMS into Cascade and the chart below shows the immediate performance improvements we have gained.
There are pros and cons to both dynamic and static site generators. Depending on the requirements of a project, one may be better suited than the other. Use the comments section to share your experiences, and join the conversation on Slack.