Blog Renovation Day: Using Publii for building modern static websites

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Maintaining a simple website, like a blog, is more difficult than it ought to be. Until today, this blog was running on WordPress software, which is easy to use and very versatile. But WordPress keeps getting updated, and the updates frequently fix security holes created by earlier updates. So you can't be content with just posting your glorious words — you've got to maintain the site by keeping everything updated, and sometimes you've got to clean up what the hackers did to you.

My other blog ran on Drupal, which is stunningly difficult to use and to update (although even more versatile, if you're a Drupal expert). There are other options, but they share a common problem: they are all software that runs on a web server.

When someone visits a website, this software generates a webpage for the visitor, based on the raw information stored in its database. This is absolutely necessary for sites where that raw information is constantly changing — e.g., product information on a shopping site, financial data on a banking site, news articles that are arriving from hundreds of sources, visitor comments, etc.

But many websites operated by individuals and small businesses don't need this immediacy, because the information is only updated occasionally, and by a single person. In this situation, it can be better to generate the webpages on a home or office computer, and then copy them to the web server. This greatly reduces the risk of getting your website hacked, even if you ignore software updates for years.

You can actually create an entire blog by hand in a text editor. I've done this. It's tedious.

This is where software like Publii comes in. You do the writing, Publii handles most of the tedium of turning your words into a website. If you've ever used WordPress, Publii will look familiar. The biggest difference is that Publii runs on your own computer (Windows, Mac, or Linux), not on a web server. Write a new article, click the Sync button, and your website gets updated.

There's a lot of setup, just as with WordPress. You have to select a theme (i.e. the layout, fonts, and colors for your site) and customize it to your liking. You have to connect Publii to your webserver. But you only have to do this once.

I'm still new to Publii, but so far, I'm favorably impressed.