Choose Hugo Over Jekyll

In a sea of choice, which static site generator will you choose?

1 minutes read

Many are familiar with the idea of static site generators like Jekyll and why they should use them. But Jekyll isn’t the only SSG out there. In fact, there are hundreds of SSGs guaranteed to give you analysis paralysis. With so many to choose from it can be difficult to decide which to use.

After trying a number of SSGs myself over the years the one I’ve zeroed in on is none other than Hugo. Here’s just a few of the reasons why Hugo rocks the socks off Jekyll:

  • It has zero dependencies. Once you get a hold of the Hugo binary you’re ready to roll. Many other static site generators require a complex environment and dependencies to run. For Jekyll, that means Ruby and RubyGems. For Hexo, you’ll need Node and NPM. For Hugo, all you need is Hugo.
  • It’s easy to set-up. If you’re a OS X user, simply brew install hugo and you can start a new website with the hugo new site command. Hugo pre-built binaries are available for FreeBSD, Windows and Linux as well.
  • It’s extremely fast. Unlike Jekyll, which can take hours to compile a site with 1,000 pages, Hugo has been shown to generate up to 5,000 webpages in under 10 seconds.

    Update 10 Feb 2017: As of Hugo v0.17, when multilingual sites were introduced, Hugo site generation speed has—wait for it—doubled!

  • It’s ultra flexible. Unlike Jekyll, which was blog-focused until Collections were bolted on, Hugo was built from the ground up with freedom of content structure in mind.
  • It’s fun! To prove this last point I decided to create a theme for Hugo called After Dark (pictured below). The initial theme creation process took about two days, and making it reminded me of the joys of coding for the Web circa 1995—back when flying toasters were all the rage.

After Dark theme for Hugo screenshots

There are some downsides to Hugo, don’t get me wrong. For starters, Hugo hasn’t been around as long as Jekyll and, as a result, doesn’t not have as large of a community. Additionally, you may find a few holes in Hugo’s documentation–which is otherwise pretty great.

So what are you waiting for? Give Hugo a try. And, while you’re at it, check out the After Dark theme for a culture jamming take on content publishing in the new millennium.

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