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My experience with Zola

Soc Virnyl Estela | 2022-12-10 | reading time: ~3min

There are many static site generators out there and we all know the most popular is Hugo. This static site generator is written in Go, one of the most popular programming languages that is used to write popular technologies such as Docker and Gitea.

During my exploration of using a static site generator, I was planning to use Franklin.jl from the Julia programming language. Although the idea was to use that, I never really got the motivation around that time to build my website since personal life got so busy.

Discovering Zola§

As a Rust enthusiast, I was finding myself looking around using tools that are written in Rust. We all know about the memes such as "Blazingly fast! 🚀" on most popular Rust repositories but my discovery of Zola, admittedly, is because of well... Rust. I have completely forgotten about Franklin.jl at that time, around October 2022 because the community I was in were Rust enthusiasts.

Like Hugo, Zola is also a static site generator but written in Rust. It uses the Tera templating engine which is inspired by Jinja2 and Django template language. As I am also familiar with Django, albeit out of practice and no longer using it, I am still familiar with the Jinja2 and Django template language.

I have not used Hugo so I cannot really tell what features it has compared to Zola. Zola has various features including a configuration file config.toml where you can configure if you want to generate a ToC. And of course, it supports reading your static folder which you can put your assets and everything you want in there.

The appeal§

The number one appeal that I think what made me use Zola are templates. With the usage of the Tera template language, you can reuse html files as ... guess what ... templates. This encourage code reuse and adding some macros so you can modify your existing templates with another and extending it as you please. As you may all know, my site is built with Zola and I haven't even used its full power yet because I am still understanding how this all works and all including extending and creating Tera macros. Yet, so little features used, and I already built a website of my own. This made me happy and stick to it.

Conclusion§

Zola pretty well made it easy for me to write my own website and simplify my way of writing one with the Tera templating engine. So far, the tool is good to me and I have not experienced any hiccups yet.

Minor issues§

The only issue that I really dislike about Zola is the lack of documentation, which to me discourages new users to use it. It took me 2 hours to understand how to use the templating engine and what classes and ids should I use for the SASS/CSS files by inspecting the generated site using Firefox's Inspect tool and also reading code from custom themes from other users.

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