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Getting started


You're ready? Let's go! You can install Pelican via several different methods. The simplest is via pip:

$ pip install pelican

If you have the project source, you can install Pelican using the distutils method. I recommend doing so in a virtualenv:

$ virtualenv pelican_venv
$ source bin/activate
$ python install


At this time, Pelican is dependent on the following Python packages:

  • feedgenerator, to generate the Atom feeds
  • jinja2, for templating support
  • docutils, for supporting reStructuredText as an input format

If you're not using Python 2.7, you will also need argparse.


  • pygments, for syntax highlighting
  • Markdown, for supporting Markdown as an input format

Writing articles using Pelican

File metadata

Pelican tries to be smart enough to get the information it needs from the file system (for instance, about the category of your articles), but some information you need to provide in the form of metadata inside your files.

You can provide this metadata in reStructuredText text files via the following syntax (give your file the .rst extension):

My super title

:date: 2010-10-03 10:20
:tags: thats, awesome
:category: yeah
:author: Alexis Metaireau

You can also use Markdown syntax (with a file ending in .md). Markdown generation will not work until you explicitly install the markdown distribution. You can do so on a normal system using pip install markdown

Date: 2010-12-03
Title: My super title
Tags: thats, awesome
Slug: my-super-post

This is the content of my super blog post.

Note that, aside from the title, none of this metadata is mandatory: if the date is not specified, Pelican will rely on the file's "mtime" timestamp, and the category can be determined by the directory in which the file resides. For example, a file located at python/foobar/myfoobar.rst will have a category of foobar.

Generate your blog

To launch Pelican, just use the pelican command:

$ pelican /path/to/your/content/ [-s path/to/your/]

And… that's all! Your weblog will be generated and saved in the content/ folder.

The above command will use the default theme to produce a simple site. It's not very sexy, as it's just simple HTML output (without any style).

You can create your own style if you want. Have a look at the help to see all the options you can use:

$ pelican --help

Kickstart a blog

You also can use the pelican-quickstart script to start a new blog in seconds, by just answering few questions. Just run pelican-quickstart and you're done! (Added in Pelican 3.0)


If you create a folder named pages, all the files in it will be used to generate static pages.

Then, use the DISPLAY_PAGES_ON_MENU setting, which will add all the pages to the menu.

Importing an existing blog

It is possible to import your blog from Dotclear, WordPress, and RSS feeds using a simple script. See :ref:`import`.


It is possible to translate articles. To do so, you need to add a lang meta attribute to your articles/pages and set a DEFAULT_LANG setting (which is English [en] by default). With those settings in place, only articles with the default language will be listed, and each article will be accompanied by a list of available translations for that article.

Pelican uses the article's URL "slug" to determine if two or more articles are translations of one another. The slug can be set manually in the file's metadata; if not set explicitly, Pelican will auto-generate the slug from the title of the article.

Here is an example of two articles, one in English and the other in French.

The English article:

Foobar is not dead

:slug: foobar-is-not-dead
:lang: en

That's true, foobar is still alive!

And the French version:

Foobar n'est pas mort !

:slug: foobar-is-not-dead
:lang: fr

Oui oui, foobar est toujours vivant !

Post content quality notwithstanding, you can see that only item in common between the two articles is the slug, which is functioning here as an identifier. If you'd rather not explicitly define the slug this way, you must then instead ensure that the translated article titles are identical, since the slug will be auto-generated from the article title.

Syntax highlighting

Pelican is able to provide colorized syntax highlighting for your code blocks. To do so, you have to use the following conventions (you need to put this in your content files).

For RestructuredText:

.. code-block:: identifier

   your code goes here

For Markdown, format your code blocks thusly:

your code goes here

The specified identifier should be one that appears on the list of available lexers.


It's possible to tell Pelican to watch for your modifications, instead of manually launching it every time you want to see your changes. To enable this, run the pelican command with the -r or --autoreload options.

Publishing drafts

If you want to publish an article as a draft (for friends to review before publishing, for example), you can add a status: draft attribute to its metadata. That article will then be output to the drafts folder and not listed on the index page nor on any category page.

Viewing the generated files

The files generated by Pelican are static files, so you don't actually need anything special to see what's happening with the generated files.

You can either use your browser to open the files on your disk:

$ firefox output/index.html

Or run a simple web server using Python:

cd output && python -m SimpleHTTPServer
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