Goodbye Jekyll, Welcome Hugo!

Posted by nielsb on Saturday, August 18, 2018

Back in 2013 I wrote a post about how I moved from a self hosted WordPress blog to a static blog; OctoPress. OctoPress spoke to my “geeky” side, as the foundation of it is the static blog-generator Jekyll, which in turn is Ruby based. In fact, OctoPress is more or less just some extra Ruby plugins on top of Jekyll, and to generate sites with OctoPress / Ruby you need Ruby installed on you machine.

I thought that by changing the blog platform, I might write more posts just due to the “geekiness” of the blog engine. Fast forward to the end of 2016, and the number of posts I had written since the switch came to a grand total of three. Those three includes the post where I announced the switch. Yeah, switching increased indeed my productivity - NOT!

So what does this have to do with anything?

Before I get into the reason for this post, let us look at what a static site generator is.

Static Site

A static site generator is a framework that takes source files and generates an entirely static website. We deploy the files that make up the site to the web server, and when a user requests a page, the web server returns that page to the user. This opposed to something like WordPress, where WordPress builds the page from a number of templates, gets the content and other site data from the database and sends the complete HTML page back to the user.

The advantages of a static site are that it is usually less complicated than a dynamic site; no templates, no database and so forth. Quite often serving a page to the user is better performing as the page is not dynamically created.

The downside of a static site is that you build it for each time you do a change to a page, adding a post, and so on, and depending on the size of your site (number of pages etc.), the build can take a while. So that is where my problem lies and the reason for this post.


I mentioned above how I didn’t manage to write any blog posts up to the end of 2016. Since then, however, I have been reasonably productive in my writing - and managed at least one post per week. It helps when you have cool stuff like SQL Server Machine Learning Services to write about. While it is cool that I produce posts, what I noticed was that the build time of the site took longer and longer. I did not think much about it until a couple of weeks ago when I had just finished the sp_execute_external_script and SQL Compute Context - III post and tried to generate the site. It did not work; it just hung, what to do?

I ended up removing all OctoPress plugins and edited all files that referenced the plugins, to be able to run a bare-bones Jekyll generated site. I eventually managed to get it to work again, but this made me look around for other site generators.


In my looking around for static site generators I came across Hugo. Like Jekyll it is an open source static site generator, but it is built on Go instead of Ruby. One of the differences between Hugo and Jekyll is that when you generate a site with Jekyll you execute Ruby commands, and, as I mentioned above, you need Ruby installed. Hugo, on the other hand, comes as an executable Hugo.exe and you do not need Go installed at all. That Hugo is a self contained executable is a big plus in my book, since I have had versioning issues with Ruby a couple of times.

The most significant difference between Jekyll and Hugo though is speed when generating a site, or at least that is what the Hugo website says: “The world’s fastest framework for building websites”.

With the above points in mind, I decided to try and convert this blog from Jekyll to Hugo.

Blog Conversion

So, I spent a couple of hours a day for around a week converting my posts and pages to Hugo, and it was not that difficult. The biggest issue was how Jekyll refers to posts: {% post_url 2018-08-04-sp-execute-external-script-and-sql-compute-context---iii %} versus /post/2018-08-04-sp-execute-external-script-and-sql-compute-context---iii/, and I had a lot of those. I eventually wrote a small C# console application that trawled through the posts and did the conversion. Apart from that everything is pretty straightforward. Obviously there are differences, but nothing earthshattering, as far as I can tell.

What about the speed then? Well, to build the Jekyll site took around 20 seconds, to build the site using Hugo takes around 2 seconds! Based on this, I decided to switch to Hugo, and this is the first post that I publish using Hugo as blog site generator. I hope I have not missed anything and that all is Ok. If not, well then, hopefully, you, my readers, tell me if you notice something amiss.

~ Finally

If you have comments, questions etc., please comment on this post or ping me.

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