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A straightforward python static site generator.

Project description


Colin Thomas-Arnold


It’s yet another static site generator. Have you seen jekyll? hyde? Yup. Like those.

But this one is:

  1. Written in python, unlike jekyll

  2. NOT complicated, unlike hyde. And I mean really NOT complicated.


$ pip install StrangeCase
$ scase  # generates the site
$ scase --watch  # generates the site and watches for changes to source files


  1. In your project folder, make a site/ and public/ folder.

  2. Put index.j2 in site/, and put some html in there.

  3. Add YAML front matter to that file. It looks like this:

    title: My first StrangeCase site
    <!doctype html>
  4. Use that YAML in your page using Jinja2’s template language syntax:

    title: My first StrangeCase site
    <!doctype html>
    <h1>{{ title }}</h1>
  5. Run strange case: $ scase

  6. Open public/index.html. You might want to hold onto your jaw, lest it drop to the floor. Yeah, it’s not gonna say {{ title }}, it’s gonna say My First Page in big letters.


Whoopity freakin’ do, right? Let’s add a layout and create a site.

At this point this demo site looks like this:

├── public
│   └── index.html
└── site
    └── index.j2

Add a layouts folder, and put a layout in there:

├── layouts
│   └── base.j2
├── public
│   └── index.html
└── site
    └── index.j2

layouts/base.j2 looks like this:

<!doctype html>
  <title>{{ title or "Nifty Wow!" }}</title>
{% block content %}
{% endblock %}

And update index.j2 to use this layout:

title: My first StrangeCase site
{% extends "layouts/base.j2" %}
{% block content %}
<h1>{{ title }}</h1>
{% endblock %}

You can run StrangeCase again. public/index.html will now have <head> and <body> tags surrounding it.

If you’re lost at this point, you should read up on Jinja. We haven’t really done anything more than run index.j2 through jinja and wrote the output to index.html.

Now let’s add a projects folder and a couple projects. When you add content to your site, put it in the site/ folder. Most simple projects will pretty much only use the site/ folder and a layouts/ folder wth one or two layouts in there.

I’m going to throw a curveball into the project file names. StrangeCase orders files by sorting them by file name. This is important when you go to display images or blogs in order by date. If you want to have them ordered by anything other than filename, you can use a couple different naming schemes at the beginning of the file name. jekyll does a similar thing, btw.

I’m going to add two prefixes so we can see what happens when we process files this way.

├── layouts
│   └── base.j2
├── public
│   └── index.html
└── site
    ├── index.j2
    └── projects
        ├── 001_2012_02_27_first_project.j2   #
        ├── 002_2012_02_28_second_project.j2  # look over here!
        └── 003_2012_02_27_third_project.j2   #

And here is what each project template looks like:

{% extends "layouts/base.j2" %}

{% block content %}
<h1>{{ title }}</h1>
<p>Project number #{{ order }} started on {{ created_at | date }}</p>
{% endblock %}

A little shorter than our original index.j2. Notice I’ve left out the YAML front matter, and yet I am using the variables title, order, and created_at. Where do they get their value from?

The file name!

\+/ \---+----/ \-----+-----/
 |      |            |
 |      |            +-title
 |      |
 |      +-created_at

In this way, you get some variables for free just by naming your files with a date and/or order prefix. Later, you’ll be able to write your own function that does this — and more! We are looking at the by-product of “configurators”, and they can access and modify the entire config for the node.

BUT, if you tried to run StrangeCase right now, you would get the following error:

$ scase
jinja2.exceptions.TemplateAssertionError: no filter named 'date'

No worries, there is a date filter built into StrangeCase. It’s just not enabled. So add a config.yaml file to the project root:

├── config.yaml
├── layouts
│   └── base.j2
├── public
│   └── index.html
└── site
    ├── index.j2
    └── projects
        ├── 001_2012_02_27_first_project.j2
        ├── 002_2012_02_28_second_project.j2
        └── 003_2012_02_27_third_project.j2

and add the date filter:


Now you can run StrangeCase with no errors, which will generate:

<!doctype html>
  <title>Nifty Wow!</title>

<p>Project number #1 started on 27 Feb 2012</p>


Moving along. Now let’s create a project listing at projects/index.j2. We need a way to “fetch” the project pages. This is going to be very easy, because really all that StrangeCase does is build a resource tree. And we can walk that tree using the node names. So if we just iterate over the projects/ folder, we’ll have our project nodes.

Add index.j2 to site/projects/

├── config.yaml
├── layouts
│   └── base.j2
├── public
│   └── index.html
└── site
    ├── index.j2
    └── projects
        ├── index.j2    # <===
        ├── 001_2012_02_27_first_project.j2
        ├── 002_2012_02_28_second_project.j2
        └── 003_2012_02_27_third_project.j2


{% extends "layouts/base.j2" %}

{% block content %}
{% for project in site.projects %}
<p><a href="{{ project.url }}">{{ project.title }}</a></p>
{% endfor %}
{% endblock %}

Iterating over folders is a very easy thing to do in StrangeCase. It’s how you do things like create an index page, as we saw here, or create a photo blog (for photo in site.images.my_fun_trip). It is what I found very frustrating in jekyll and hyde (especially jekyll), and so it’s what is very easy in StrangeCase.

Notice that when we iterate over the site.projects folder, it does not include the index.html file. Makes sense, though, right? The index page is considered to be the same “page” as the folder. Even though they are seperate nodes, they have the same URL.

To wrap things up, let’s make a link to the project page from the home page. Every node has a url property, and you can access pages by their name. “name” is whatever is “leftover” after the created_at date and order have been pulled out. I’ll add a link to the second project to demonstrate this:

title: My first StrangeCase site
{% extends "layouts/base.j2" %}
{% block content %}
<h1>{{ title }}</h1>
<p><a href="{{ site.projects.url }}">Projects</a></p>
<p>My favorite project: <a href="{{ site.projects.second_project.url }}">My second project</a></p>
{% endblock %}

This wraps up the tutorial! Now, I’ll explain the inner workings.


StrangeCase parses all the files and directories in site/.

  • Files/Folders that match ignore are not processed at all.

  • Folders become FolderNode objects (site/, though, is a RootNode) and scanned recursively.

  • Pagess (any file that doesn’t match dont_process) become JinjaNode(FileNode) objects.

  • Assets (anything that isn’t a page) become AssetNode(FileNode) objects.

  • These can be overridden using the type config.

  • Additional nodes can be created by including the appropriate processor and setting the type to use that processor.

The nodes are placed in a tree:

(root, aka site)                    # RootNode
| static/                           # FolderNode
| | css/                            # FolderNode
| | + style.css                     # AssetNode
| \ image/                          # FolderNode
|   | img1.png                      # AssetNode (or possibly ImageNode)
|   | img2.png                      # AssetNode
|   + img3.png                      # AssetNode
| robots.txt                        # PageNode
| index (index.j2 => index.html)    # PageNode
\ blogs/                            # FolderNode
  | test1 (test1.j2 => test1.html)  # PageNode
  + test2 (test2.j2 => test2.html)  # PageNode


Here is a more thorough 1-2-3 of what StrangeCase does when you run it.

1 - Build stage

In the build stage, StrangeCase is looking at the files and folders in site/. First a root node is created:

root_node = build_node(config, site_path, deploy_path, '')[0]

The build_node method configures and processes the node. configures means that it passes the source_path and config to each of the configurators (we saw these working in the tutorial above: date_from_name, order_from_name, and title_from_name in particular). processes means that one or more nodes are instantiated and added to the node tree. The root_node sits at the top, and in your templates you access it using {{ site }}.

This process continues recursively for every file and folder in site (except ignore-d files).

1.a - Processors

During the build stage, page, folder, and asset nodes are created using processors. There are four built-in processors, and more available as extensions. One important thing to note here is that assets and pages are differentiated only by the fact that one of them is passed through Jinja2. If you want to process a JavaScript file through Jinja2, you should use the dont_process configuration, or set type: page in the parent folder config.yaml file (using the files: dictionary):

  special.js: { type: page }
  # or
  special.js: { dont_process: false }

type is not inherited, but dont_process is, so you can set a whole folder of assets to become page nodes using this config.

2 - Populating

If you are using the category processor this stage is important. If you’re not, it won’t matter.

Some nodes can’t know what content they will generate until the entire site is scanned. Like categories! We need to know all the pages in the site before we know what all the categories are, and how many pages have that category.

These nodes are stored as ProcessorNode``s, and they are nodes that say "hold on, I'm not ready yet...". They must implement a ``populate method, which when called removes the processor node from the tree and replaces itself with nodes (or it can insert nodes elsewhere in the tree, or do nothing I suppose).

3 - Generating

All the nodes are instantiated and are arranged in a tree structure, with the root node at the top. The generate method is called on the root node, and recursively on all the children. This is where folders are created, pages are generated, and assets are copied over. If you are using the image processor, you might also have thumbnails created using PIL.


In your templates, you have access to anything in the inherited config and in per-page metadata:


    name: "Colin"


# YAML front matter
title: test

<h1>{{ }}</h1>
<h2>{{ title }}</h2>
<h2>{{ my.title }}</h2>



Accessing any page by name

This is a common thing to do in StrangeCase. The name, if it is not explicitly declared, is detemined by the file name. The default configurators will remove ordering (order_from_name) and date (date_from_name) from the front, and then the default name (setdefault_name) will be the file name with non-alphanumerics replaced with underscores, lowercased, and the html extension is removed. All other extensions are left.

This is a file name - DUH.j2 becomes this_is_a_file_name___duh

WHAT, a great image?.jpg becomes what__a_great_image_jpg

Example of accessing the “Best blog ever” page’s URL:

<a href="{{ site.blogs.best_blog_ever.url }}">Best blog ever</a>.

All nodes except the root node (site is the root node, if you haven’t noticed) have siblings nodes, a next node, and a prev node. If this is the first / last node, prev / next returns None. siblings always returns a list, and at the minimum the current node will be in there (even the root node, but why you would call site.siblings is beyond me).

Iterating over folders

We’ve already seen this, but I’ll include it again for completeness:

{% for blog in site.blogs %}
<p>{{ loop.index }}. {{ blog.title }}</p>
{% endfor %}


<p>1. Blog Title</p>
<p>2. Blog Title</p>

Note: Files named index.html will not be included in this list. This is a very reasonable design decision, but I can imagin a situation where you have a file (think robots.txt) that also doesn’t belong in the iterable pages list. So iterable: false is available as a config setting.

Iterate over a folder of images

{% for image in site.static.image %}
<img src="{{ image.url }}" />
{% endfor %}

BAM, how’s that for an image listing! This might be my favorite thing in StrangeCase: that folders are iterable. It makes things that were weird in jekyll (site.categories.blablabla) very easy, and intuitive, I think, since you only have to know the folder name of your images/blogs/projects/whatever.

You might want to check out the image processor, explained below. It uses PIL to make thumbnail images.

You can check what kind of node you’re working with using the type property (“page”, “folder”, “asset”) or the is_page, is_folder, is_asset methods. Internally this is done a lot, I can’t think of a reason you would need to do this in a template… but there it is!

Lastly, the .all() method, and its more specific variants, are very useful. The all() method definition says it all I think:

def all(self, recursive=False, folders=None, pages=None, assets=None, processors=None):
    Returns descendants, ignoring iterability. Folders, assets, and
    pages can all be included or excluded as the case demands.

    If you specify any of folders, pages, assets or processors, only those objects
    will be returned.
    Otherwise all node types will be returned.

    recursive, though, defaults to False.  calling all(True) is the same as all(recursive=True)

The variants are all subsets of all():

def pages(self, recursive=False):
    return self.all(recursive=recursive, pages=True)

def folders(self, recursive=False):
    return self.all(recursive=recursive, folders=True)

def assets(self, recursive=False):
    return self.all(recursive=recursive, assets=True)

def files(self, recursive=False):
    return self.all(recursive=recursive, pages=True, assets=True)

def processors(self, recursive=False):
    return self.all(recursive=recursive, processors=True)


Mostly random thoughts here. Most of what you might want to know about StrangeCase should be here, so expect some repetition.

  • In your project folder (where you execute StrangeCase), you can have config.yaml and/or, and you definitely have a site/ folder, where your site content is stored. There are probably Jinja2 layouts, includes, and who knows what else in the root folder, too.

  • site/ stores site content: templates, assets, folders, and maybe some “special” files like category pages. These are processed, rendered, copied, or ignored, as the case may be (dot-files are ignored, btw!).

  • When StrangeCase is done it places your static site in public/.

  • There are only two special folders: site and public. They can be changed in config (site_path and dest_path).

  • config.yaml stores context variables. It is merged with the default config. Child folders and pages inherit all the config settings of their parent except the variables in dont_inherit:

    • type

    • name

    • target_name

    • title

    • created_at

    • order

  • Template files (.html, .txt, .md) can contain YAML front matter. If the first line is a bunch of dashes (^[-]{3,}$), all lines up to the matching dashes will be treated as YAML and added to that files context variables.

  • Binary files can have front matter, too, but since you can’t place it in the file, it is stored in a special files: setting in the parent folder’s config.yaml file. It should be a dictionary with the key corresponding to the name of the file, and the value is the front matter for that file. files: entries in config.yaml are not inherited.

  • Everything in config.yaml and YAML front matter is available as a context variable in your templates.

  • Templates are rendered using Jinja2.

  • StrangeCase points Jinja to your project folder, so you can use any directories you want in there to store layouts, macros, and partials. * layouts that are in layouts/ are extended using {% extends 'layouts/file.j2' %} * includes in anywhere/ are included using {% include 'anywhere/file.j2' %} * I suppose the convention is to have layouts/ and includes/ folders.

  • In the project root, is where you can place runtime things, like… * if you need to calculate a value (e.g. datetime.time) * fetch some data from a database (ewww!) * import jinja extensions (or use ‘extensions’ in config.yaml) * import jinja filters (or use ‘filters’ in config.yaml) * register StrangeCase processors (or use ‘processors’ in config.yaml)

  • If you need a page to be processed differently, set type to the desired file type in the config for that file/folder. For instance, the category index page should be type: category_index.

  • You can prefix variables on a page with my. (e.g. my.title or my.parent). I think it looks better in some places because it makes it clear where the content comes from (e.g. {{ my.title }} as opposed to just {{ title }}). Totally optional.

  • Based on the file name, config.yaml, and YAML front matter, some config settings get changed during the build stage. See for these methods. See for the order.


You should study this to learn a lot about how StrangeCase works. The reason I boast that StrangeCase is simple is because everything it does can be controlled using the config.

config_file: 'config.yaml'                # name of file that contains config
host: "http://localhost:8000"             # hostname.  I'm not using this for anything, but it might be import for plugin authors one day
index: index.html                         # any file whose target_name matches this name will not be iterable
ignore: ['config.yaml', '.*']             # which files to ignore altogether while building the site
dont_process: ['*.js', '*.css', *images]  # do not run these files through jinja
dont_inherit: [                           # nodes will not inherit these properties
rename_extensions: {                      # which extensions to rename, and to what
  '.j2': '.html',
  '.jinja2': '.html'
html_extension: '.html'                   # files with this extension are html files (`page.is_page` => `True`)

# these can only be assigned in the root config file, otherwise they will
# be treated as plain ol' file data
site_path: 'site/'                        # where to find site content
deploy_path: 'public/'                    # where to put the generated site
remove_stale_files: true                  # removes files that were not generated.
dont_remove: ['.*']                       # list of glob patterns to ignore when removing stale files
extensions: []                            # list of Jinja2 extension classes as a dot-separated import path
filters: {}                               # dictionary of `filter_name: filter.method`.
processors: []                            # additional processors.  Processors register themselves as a certain type.
configurators: [                          # list of configurators.  The built-ins do very important things, so overriding this does *bad things*
  configurators.ignore,                   # ignores files based on the 'ignore' setting
  configurators.merge_files_config,       # merges files[filename] with filename
  configurators.setdefault_name,          # if 'name' isn't assigned explicitly, this assigns it based on the file name and extension
  configurators.setdefault_target_name,   # similarly for target_name
  configurators.folder_pre,               # processes folder/config.yaml.  If the folder config contains `ignore: true`, the folder is skipped
  configurators.file_pre,                 # processes YAML front matter.  Again, the file can be ignored using `ignore: true`
  configurators.date_from_name,           # Gets the date from the file name, and strips it from name.
configurators +: []                       # to solve the problem changing 'configurators',
                                          # you can put additional configurators in here.

AND THAT’S (pretty much) IT

Jinja2 makes it easy to put pretty complicated logic in templates, which is really the only place for them in this static generator context…

...or is it !? I’m wondering what kind of spaghetti nonsense these templates could end up with (it’s like PHP all over again!), and how that could be fixed.

Which leads right into…


This relates to the and config.yaml files mentioned above.

You should glance at the repository on the build branch. It does most things that can be done (and look in extensions/ for the markdown and date extension, I copied it from somewhere).

You can define extensions, filters, “configurators”, and processors.

filters is a dictionary of filter_name: package.path.

extensions is a list of - package.paths.

If you specify these in, you can import the extension/filter and assign it to the list. Otherwise, in config.yaml, use a dot-separated path, similar to how you would write an import statement, but include the class name.

There are a couple built-in processors that are not imported & registered by default: categories and image.

In, you can add context variables that need the POWER OF PYTHON. Things like datetime.time(). I might add a way to do this in the YAML, but probably not (unless the community argues for its inclusion).

Example of all this nonsense using

from strange_case_config import CONFIG
from strange_case.processors import image, categories
from strange_case.extensions.Markdown2 import Markdown2Extension, markdown_filter
from datetime.datetime import time

    'extensions': [Markdown2Extension],
    'filters': {
        'markdown': markdown_filter,
    'processors': [image, categories]
    'time': int(time()),

Equivalent in the root config.yaml:

  - extensions.Markdown2.Markdown2Extension
  markdown: extensions.Markdown2.markdown_filter
  - processors.image
  - processors.categories
# cannot assign time to datetime.time.  DANG.

processors/ has an explanation of how processors work, and how it was written. I made it up as I went along, and ended up adding a Processor class that extends Node, and a concept of “populating” the tree after the initial build. Read more in that file. I think it’s a good system, but I’m open to friendly suggestions.

Last but not least: configurators. These are really the work horses of StrangeCase. They look at YAML front matter, ignore files, set default processors, and so on. If you need to do the equivalent of a context processor in django, this is where you would do that.

Every configurator in config['configurators'] is given the node config. If it returns nothing, the node is skipped. Otherwise, you can modify the config, or create a new one, and return it.

See date_from_name for a good example of modifying the config based on the file name.


  • Placing entries in **/config.yaml override parent configs, but i’d like to add a merging syntax to the YAML, as a little DSL.


Copyright (c) 2012, Colin Thomas-Arnold All rights reserved.

See LICENSE for more details (it’s a simplified BSD license).

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