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Redesign: Everything Broke

Redesign: Everything Broke

Oh my, this sounds a nightmare. Robin Rendle on changing static site generator, from 11ty to Astro.

I’m sure this will be fixed eventually but it means I have to cautiously [my emphasis] make any change, no matter how small. Change the markup, watch the command line. Change the font, watch the command line; because the slightest thing might break… This broke my RSS feed and made it look like I had a very productive evening of blogging.

I can confirm the RSS problem when I suddenly had 300+ new Robin Rendle posts show up in NetNewsWire.

Astro boasts that it outputs static HTML and CSS, which to me seems a fairly self-evident aim of a static site generator. I do scratch my head when I read:

In Astro, you compose your website using UI components from your favorite JavaScript web framework (React, Svelte, Vue, etc). Astro renders your entire site to static HTML during the build.

Because this seems a strange approach to building what is at the end of the day a collection of static pages. How many “UI components” does that require?

This is not a criticism of Robin – it’s up to you how you build your website; the same drive to try the new thing was behind my move from WordPress to Jekyll in 2013.

True, I’m not a professional web developer using something like Typescript on a daily basis, but I don’t understand why you would use React, Svelte etc. to build non-interactive pages, rather than a templating language such as Liquid or a CMS like WordPress.

By Robin Rendle. Originally published 11/08/21.

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Replies (5)


@leonp I’ve even read a few places of Hugo making breaking templating changes in the past, though I don’t know the specifics of what those were. I don’t know how common these issues are in something more seasoned like Jekyll.


@pimoore I think Hugo’s pretty stable and Jekyll never changes any more, for better or worse. My gripe is more with something like Astro introducing a complex build process and javascript frameworks just to produce a simple, static site.


@leonp Did Jekyll ever get their incremental regeneration off the ground as a full feature, or is it still experimental? That was always the biggest beef people had with it; slow build times.


@pimoore Yeah, it works, and makes quite a difference, but it’s still relatively slow. On my highish-spec MBP from 2016 my site builds in ~2s, which is fine. It’s still painfully slow on a large site, though, and you only use it on content pages. If you’re making design changes that affect every page you’re back to a standard build (about 5-6s on my website).


@leonp That seems to be Hugo’s biggest draw is the insane build speed, which I don’t think any other static generator even comes close to. I appreciate that is using it on the backend for that reason.