Six Reasons Why I Chose Hexo

Introduction

For most small websites today, website speed and server security trump dynamic content. Once a small website has established a theme, it is not likely to need to change with the content. And even when dynamic content is needed; such as comments or contact forms, there are services which allow this dynamic content to be embedded using JavaScript. Which is exactly why static site generators have become all the rage for personal and/or developer blogs. Enough where the number of options can be overwhelming, just take a look at the size of the scrollbar on StaticGen when no filters are applied.

Three Reasons Why I Chose NodeJS

WordPress has been the de-facto choice for years. They even know how much of the internet is built using WordPress. Even I used to use WordPress, but only because I felt like I had no other choice. I was happy to finally have a way to get away from WordPress. Although their new Ghost blogging platform was a candidate I was considering it was eventually discarded due to some of the security concerns I had about it.

The first step to deciding which static site generator to use is to narrow it down by programming language. Conveniently, this is also a feature that StaticGen provides. The most popular ones that I had heard about were Jekyll (Ruby), Hugo (Go), Hexo (JavaScript), Pelican (Python), and DocPad (CoffeeScript). I could eliminate a few already based on my previous experience with the languages they used: namely Ruby and Go. This left me with three potential language choices. Since I had some experience with Python from my college days I thought I would try something new. And it would probably be a good thing for me to try to get over my blatant hate for all things JavaScript. This led me to the decision that the blogging framework had to be built with NodeJS. Unfortunately, JavaScript has several different flavors and StaticGen does not allow you to select multiple languages at a time. At least not by default.

Getting A List of Frameworks

I dug through the source code for StaticGen and found that I could use Developer Tools to select multiple languages. The edit turns the option value from this:

1
2
3
<option value=".lang-javascript">
JavaScript
</option>

to this:

1
2
3
<option value=".lang-javascript,.lang-coffeescript">
JavaScript
</option>

A separate option could also have been added, but I only wanted JavaScript based frameworks. The resulting list was still fairly large, but it was much better than before. To reduce the list down even further I made the rule that I would only consider projects that had more than 500 stars - which would allow me to test a few that were under DocPad. DocPad was the deciding factor because it was the lowest of the frameworks that I had heard about.

I had a pretty thorough plan that I was going to try each framework and rate it in it’s ease of installation, ease of use, ability to theme, and ability to upgrade. Honestly, there were still too many frameworks for this kind of analysis. However, I did go through them all and gave each framework an attempt to win me over. I may make a post with the results of this analysis.

Six Reasons Why I Chose Hexo

Hexo turned out to be the ideal blogging framework for me, and here are the reasons why:

1. Hexo Knows What It Is and What It Is Not

Hexo sells itself as:

A fast, simple, and powerful blog framework

Which is exactly what I was looking for. At this time, I only need a blogging platform for publishing blog posts. Should I ever need additional functionality, I may consider an alternate framework.

A lot of the other top frameworks on StaticGen are actually build tools that are better for sites that are not specifically designed to be a blogging platform.

2. Hexo Keeps It Super Simple

Everything about Hexo was easy.

  • Installation
  • Setup
  • Installing Themes
  • Installing Plugins
  • Custom Theming

And the documentation is thorough enough that should any questions arise, the answer can likely be found in it. The only time I became lost was when I tried to go through the source code to understand how it was passing variables from the configuration files to the plugins while trying to set up another framework to do something similar.

3. Hexo Is Still Actively Maintained

Hexo is still being actively developed/maintained. Both in the forms of themes, and plugins; but also the core repository.

4. Extensible

Hexo comes with sane default values that will work out of the box, but these can also be changed using the plugin library. Alternatively, entire themes can be applied that have been build by other people if you do not want to do any of the work yourself.

5. Cross Platform Support and Baked In Package Manager

Not specific to Hexo, but to NodeJS - but it still is a benefit to using Hexo as opposed to creating a custom static site generator. But even if Hexo does not have a plugin for a particular technology, a plugin can be created and added to npm.

6. PluralSight Author Endorsed

By far the weakest reason on this list, but I still included it here because it provides more resources to learn about Hexo.

In the video course the course author advocates for DocPad, but on Twitter the course author has switched to Hexo.

Conclusion

Hexo might not be for everybody, but it met (and exceeded) the criteria that I was looking to fill. Other frameworks would have been ideal in other situations - but for getting a blogging platform out quickly Hexo just made sense.

# Hexo

Comments

Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now

×