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What's Letterpress?

Letterpress is a minimal, Markdown based blogging system written in Python.

Why Letterpress?

  • Letterpress is lighter than WordPress.
  • Python is prettier than PHP.
  • Static/text is more reliable than dynamic/database.
  • Markdown is more human-friendly than HTML.
  • Math writing is much easier in ASCIIMathML than in MathML.


  1. A Linux kernel with inotify support is required to run Letterpress.
  2. Requires Python 3. I want to contribute to the acceleration of the transition from Python 2 to Python 3.
  3. UTF-8 is assumed. The babel of human languages is bad enough, let's at least use the same encoding.


  1. Install pyinotify.
  2. Copy code/ to your Python runtime path.
  3. Copy code/markdown2/lib/ to your Python runtime path.
  4. Make a directory to hold your posts — let's call it press_folder — and copy press/* to it.
  5. Make the necessary changes to the templates(title, twitter handle…) and letterpress.config.
  6. Install Pygments if you want to embed code(using GFM's Syntax Highlighting) in your posts.


$ python path_to_press_folder

How It Works

After launch, Letterpress monitors Markdown files(recognized by the filename extension specified in letterpress.config) in press_folder. When an new Markdown file is detected Letterpress generates a new HTML file from that Markdown file. Similarly, when an existing Markdown file is updated or deleted, Letterpress updates or deletes the corresponding HTML file.

Letterpress also monitors templates. If any change is detected in any of the template files, Letterpress rebuilds the whole site.

Letterpress also monitors subfolders and other files in press_folder but treat them as assets. It maps them directly into site_dir. It means if you make an assets folder and put images there you can reference them in your posts, e.g., ![Big Headshot](/assets/big_headshot.jpg).

Letterpress builds these indices automatically:

  • Home index
  • Archive indices
  • Monthly indices
  • Yearly indices
  • Tag indices

Letterpress writes logs into press_folder so you can easily review what is going on.


You write posts in such a natural format:

title: Post Title
date: Publishing date in the format specified in letterpress.config. The default format is 01/31/2013.
excerpt: Summary of the post.
tags: math, web

Content of the post…

### Let's have fun with math & physics


Refer to press/ for a complete example.


The recommended naming scheme for post files is to use post title, directly or shortened. Adding date to file names would result in redundant path segment in permalinks since Letterpress already puts the HTML files under folders named after their publish dates.


You can publish posts by putting them in press_folder with whatever method you like, e.g., FTP or rsync. However, I highly recommend Dropbox. This is how you should use Dropbox to publish posts to Letterpress:

  1. Of course you must have a Dropbox account. Let's call it writer's account.
  2. Install Dropbox client on your desktop computer, iPhone, iPad or other devices you write on. Let's call it writing machine.
  3. Sign in your writer's account on your writing machine.
  4. Have the aforementioned press_folder somewhere in Dropbox folder on your writing machine.
  5. Register another Dropbox account. Let's call it publisher's account.
  6. Install Dropbox client on your server. Let's call it publishing machine.
  7. Sign in your publisher's account on your publishing machine.
  8. Share press_folder from your writer's account to your publisher's account.
  9. Now your writing machine's press_folder and publishing machine's press_folder are in sync. Whenever you put a new post into, edit an existing post in, or delete one from, your press_folder on your writing machine, Letterpress will generate, update, or delete the corresponding HTML file in site_dir(configured in letterpress.config) on your publishing machine.


So I hardly did any thing but glue these awesome things together.


Letterpress is licensed under a BSD-3-clause license. See LICENSE for details. You are encouraged to keep the "Powered by Letterpress" footer on your site.