Evolving with Our Tools: The Continued Evolution of Static Site Generators

Static site generators are still relevant and continue to evolve. You may be able to evolve with them, without needing to jump into a new type of framework.

In the fast-paced world of web development, it's easy to get caught up in the latest site frameworks and their seemingly endless capabilities. With so many options available, it's easy to overlook the more classic patterns like static site generators (SSGs). However, even though they may not be the newest and shiniest option, SSGs continue to evolve, and as developers, we must evolve with them.

The Evolution of Static Site Generators

At one point, SSGs were the go-to solution for building fast and efficient static websites. Much of this hype peaked around 2017-2019 with the explosion of Jamstack.

However, as other options emerged, SSGs started to fall out of favor. Much of this was a result of adopting Jamstack methodologies for larger and more complex sites, and needing more complex tooling to support.

Despite this, SSGs have continued to evolve alongside other web development tools, and they remain a valuable tool in the development landscape today. With many offering additional capabilities — like selective rendering, asset bundling, embedded UI libraries, and TypeScript support — SSGs are no longer just for simple static sites but can handle more complex projects as well.

Evolving with Static Site Generators

As developers, we must continue to evolve alongside our tools, and this includes SSGs. While there are many new site frameworks and platforms to choose from, it's important not to overlook the continued evolution of SSGs. As SSGs continue to evolve, we should also be evolving our skills and knowledge of these tools. By staying up-to-date with the latest developments in SSGs, we can leverage their capabilities and build better sites more efficiently.

Finding the Right SSG

While there are many options when it comes to SSGs, finding the right one is essential to building a successful site. For example, if you're building a simple site, you might start with a lightweight tool like 11ty.

And as your site grows and your needs become more complex, 11ty offers numerous ways to help you scale and adjust. But it may not always been the right tool for you.

Don't Get Distracted by Chatter

That doesn't necessarily mean moving to the thing that is hottest or that can serve the most complex case.

You might still be able to mostly use the SSG pattern, but may need some additional capabilities with UI patterns, rendering methods, or type safety. You might find that moving to something like Astro lets you stick with the SSG pattern, but helps you grow your codebase more easily. (This is just an example — Astro won't solve this in every case, and you could certainly grow a codebase with 11ty.)

Leveling up might mean continuing to work primarily with pre-rendering and not necessarily moving to more complex solutions.

Staying Current

SSGs may not be the newest and most exciting option in web development today, but they remain a valuable tool for building fast and efficient sites. By staying current with the latest developments in SSGs and other web development tools, we can continue to evolve alongside them and build better sites more efficiently.

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