Zola SSG review

Zola is indeed an opinionated static site generator

Published: Saturday, Jul 24, 2021 Last modified: Saturday, Sep 18, 2021

Since I find Hugo poorly designed with their template lookup order / page bundles endlessly confusing, I have been looking out for new SSGs.

Enter Zola

Zola in Archlinux

Since Zola is packaged in community on Archlinux, I thought, it must be good.

It’s written in rust and the standout feature from kicking the wheels upon the CLI, was zola check. What a great idea! No need for a separate link rot workflow!

I tried it upon https://github.com/kaihendry/enemies-of-carlotta-zola and it found it has two annoying short comings for me.

Temporal data is the most important (for me)

Zola’s author Vincent makes some good points why he won’t implement dates in URLs

Dates in URL don’t take into account updates so I see eg a React guide with 2015 in the URL I’m not going to look at it even though it might have been updated yesterday

I agree for living documents like https://whatwg.org/html putting a YYYY in the URL doesn’t make sense! Though for me, most of the content I create like this blog, will not be updated into the new year (it will be static!). So I want to be crystal clear which year that content was created. E.g. https://dabase.com/blog/2021/Fixing-Hotel-TV/. Hotel TVs/monitors will be a very different landscape in 2000 as well as 2030, I’m sure! I don’t see the need for the date any more granular for my content. No need for Months, Days, hours etc.

Requires front matter

Zola’s author won’t make front matter optional because:

For me, I just want to write a blog post without archetypes, tags, description. I just want to vim 2020_Blog-topic.md, and I’m away. I’m bored of every SSG, requiring a slightly different format. YAML, TOML. I am so tired of this, I just feel that we can do away with it.

Description can maybe come from a tl;dr style message. Tags can be generated.

Conclusion

The features I like from full fledged SSGs like https://www.getzola.org/ are probably not worth the pain of me forcing my requirements into them. Tbh writing a Web site generation tool with Go lang is quite easy, and I should probably focus on that more and stop being a consumer. However my FOMO over pagination / breadcrumb navigation / backlinks (which I’ve never been able to implement myself!) / new ideas keeps me looking out for interesting SSGs that are in fashion.