Static Site Generators: are we doomed?

I am writing this in response to this post. Start there and come back; I’ll wait!

So… What do you think? Things certainly don’t look too promising for WordPress, do they?

Or did you close the tab as soon as you saw the first lowercase p? The author certainly didn’t make things easy for himself: misspelled WordPress, told us how Static Site Generators are the future in a Medium post, mentioned his startup, a Static Site hosting company, in the middle of his post. But I’ll ask you to look past that.

I found that post very interesting. After all, I am already familiar with Static Site Generators since this very site ran on Jekyll a few years back. I also spent a few months on Ghost, mostly because I wanted to try the shiny new thing. Right now, I have to say I’m really interested in Mika’s project: generate a static site using Hugo, after pulling data from WordPress via the REST API.

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, as they say.

Yet I always come back to WordPress. The fact that I work for the company behind certainly has a little something to do with it. There are always new things to dogfood! But that’s not what pushes me back to WordPress every single time.

I stick to WordPress for the little things.

  • oEmbeds. Pasting iFrame codes sucks.
  • Comments. I like them on my blog, and don’t want to give them away to a third party.
  • Data portability. I own my data, and it’s all available in an easy to parse format.
  • Since WordPress is so popular, I know there are exporters for just about everything.
  • Speaking of data: I should also mention metadata. It’s also portable, extendable, there is a common standard, and it can be anything: Post Thumbnail, Geolocation, Post Format, Taxonomies,… I don’t have so use it all, but it’s there. It can also be linked, organized, queried in as many ways as you can imagine.
  • Media Management. Generating multiple image sizes on upload, view all available images at once, sort them, search through them, attach them to a post, insert them in my post with relevant srcset data (because performance matters).
  • Gallery Management. You know what’s better than one image? Multiple images on a nice grid.
  • Search: WordPress’ default search isn’t great, but it’s a basic feature every site must have. And we shouldn’t have to rely on a third party for that.

I could continue, but I don’t mean to build an exhaustive list. I know there are also bigger things that matter for everyone:

  • Mobile Apps, because sometimes I want to share that image right now,
  • Several editors,
  • A great community,
  • Plugins to extend all of the above.

In the end, I think this is where a lot of the new tools coming out these days fail: they miss out on on these little things.

Before you say it, I know: there are work-arounds, you can do all that with a bit of work. That’s my point. Until one of these tools starts to integrate these things out of the box, they won’t matter on the grand scheme of things. I am actually curious to see Ghost get there some day, because I think they’re going in the right direction. Now if only they worked on a proper editor…

That’s it for now. Let’s see where we stand in a couple of years!

4 replies on “Static Site Generators: are we doomed?”

I always come back to WordPress too after trying basically all blogging platforms available. WP has it all, even though some things could improve. The only thing I regret is that I didn’t start using WP earlier and that I stuck with it during all these years, but now I’m sure I’ll never leave it! Absolutely love it!

While the features and flexibility of WordPress are great, the huge strength of the platform for me is that I have a strong expectation that it will be around for the long haul. I have client sites which I’ve managed for years, several of which are on, now dead, flavor-of-the-month CMS platforms from years ago. Over time they become more and more brittle as the hosting environment is updated and changes are required to core to address bugs or add new features. While the front-end of the static site shouldn’t run into these issues, the back-end is still dependent on whatever underlying technology is behind it.

That’s a very good point. That’s can be something we forget, in the heat of the moment, all excited by a new tool. And when it’s time to go back and run some updates… It’s too late.

Thank you!