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The Apache NetBeans Static Web Site Project

The Apache NetBeans Static Web Site is built using the following technologies:

  1. Gradle
  2. JBake
  3. SaSS
  4. Apache Groovy
  5. SnakeYaml
  6. Apache Tomcat

... and others

The project uses Gradle, Groovy, and JBake to create a template based statically compiled web site. The technologies used compliment each other. JBake performs the final steps of preparing the site. Gradle and Groovy are used to preprocess files and execute JBake. Gradle provides features which JBake currently does not, and thus uses JBake as part of a larger build system which is completely configurable and programmable. Other features can be added as needed.

Tomcat is used to provide a local web server to use while working with the site sources locally, and is not intended to be used as the production server though Tomcat could certainly be used to serve the sources. It is expected the sources will be served by Apache httpd at Apache.

To properly use the build and tools, one should become familiar with this README, but also the build sources, and have an understanding of how they function. The goal is certainly for this README to suffice, but it is entirely possible something has been missed. Please update this README accordingly when/if something is missing.

The Source and Build Layout and Important Concepts

The project source layout is roughly:

-- src
---- main
------ groovy
---- test
------ groovy
-- build.gradle
-- gradle
---- wrapper
-- deps.gradle
-- utils.gradle
-- content
---- templates

Much of the above is standard Gradle build stuff. The rest is explained below:

Name Description
globals.yml A YAML file which is used to replace/supplement the notion of plus allows customization
buildSrc A convention in Gradle which is a subproject with sources which will be built before tasks are configured and ran
gradle A folder for Gradle specifics such as include files and the wrapper
gradle/wrapper The gradle wrapper files which allow it to run with nothing but a JDK and JAVA_HOME
gradle/deps.gradle A gradle script which defines variables and common dependencies used by the build
gradle/utils.gradle A gradle script which defines and maps various utilities the build uses
src/content The main content files top level sources directory
src/content/templates A folder for JBakes templates; this build uses Groovy templates


JBake configuration can go here, but in some cases, the configuration is better defined in the jbake configuration inside build.gradle as it can be calculated by the Gradle build.

Global data or configuration can then be defined here. This data can be in complex form, such as a YAML tree/map hierarchy, or it may be flat attributes. This data is used both for JBake configuration, those common to JBake, and thus accessible by the JBake templates, and is also accessible in pure object form by the "content templates" (more on these later)


Gradle will build buildSrc as a project before configuring and executing the rest of the build. Classes in this project can be used to do some very specific things in the build. They can provide utilities or they can setup and run an Apache Tomcat server (which they do).


The JBake templates go here. This project specifically uses Groovy templates. These should not be confused with "content templates" which is a concept to be described later. These templates are executed by JBake at specific times as described in the JBake documentation, and usually based on the type attribute from content metadata. An example is type: page in content metadata which maps to the JBake template src/content/templates/page.gsp The same is true for type: post, as it has a post.gsp file. Posts are useful for a "blog like" area of the site where news items may be kept etc.

src/content (**/*.html.gsp and **/*.md.gsp and YAML) or Content Templates

This build treats files ending in .html.gsp and .md.gsp specially. These files will be preprocessed before JBake accesses them, and turned into .html and .md files respectively. It is a build error to have such a file without a counterpart file ending in .html.gsp.yml or .md.gsp.yml respectively.

The YAML file will be merged into the final file as the JBake metadata. The common JBake metadata attributes defined in the documentation will be added to the top of the files such as title=Some Title if in the YAML file exists the value title: Some Title. The same is true for type such that type: page becomes type=page. The common attributes along with the entirety of the YAML file will be rolled up into a JSON attribute (as defined in the JBake documentation), and will be named metadata.

The tags attribute is treated specially in the YAML file processing. It can be a comma separated string value, or, it may be a YAML list of strings. This allows for better layout of the metadata.

Custom metadata, such as summary: Some longer page summary will not be added as top level attributes in the generated and merged content metadata, but will instead be available in the JSON object metadata in the content. This is accessible in JBake templates as content.metadata. Thus, to access summary, one would write content.metadata.summary, and the YAML would look like:

type: page
status: published
summary: Some longer page summary

and the metadata prepended to the content file will look like (properties/attributes and JSON):

metadata={"type":"page","status":"published","summary":"Some longer page summary"}

JBake can not currently separate the metadata from the content, and this setup allows the metadata and the content to reside in separate files, and each file to remain more pure or clean for its purpose.

Thus, if a file exists some-html.html.gsp and a YAML file exists some-html.html.gsp.yml, the .yml file will be merged with the resulting .html file, and JBake will understand the result, and will use it when it "bakes" the site. The file some-html.html.gsp will also be renamed to some-html.html during preprocessing.

It is expected that content templates in this build will not have metadata added directly to them, or the result will be undefined or may cause errors in JBake.

The difference between "content templates" and "static content" as defined below is the JBake information from the global.yml configuration file can be accessed, and used to iterate over logic, or to reference specific folders or information quite similarly as JBake templates. The files may also have any logic added to them which may be placed into a Groovy Server Page or Simple Groovy Template. Thus is supports <% %> and ${ } notation. This does mean that JavaScript inline in these files must be escaped accordingly as it will collide with Groovy syntax at times, and thus is a good reason to keep JavaScript separated into files, and not be inlined.

src/content (**/*.html and **/*.md and YAML) or Static Content

This build treats static content files ending in .html and .md similar to the "Content Templates" except it does not process the content files as Apache Groovy templates. It does however merge the .html or .md files with a similarly named file ending in .html.yml and .md.yml in the exact same way as this data is added to the "Content Templates". See above for how those are transformed and merged.

Thus, if a file exists some-html.html and a YAML file exists some-html.html.yml, the .yml file will be merged with the .html file, and JBake will understand the result, and will use it when it "bakes" the site.

It is expected that content files in this build will not have metadata added directly to them, or the result will be undefined or may cause errors in JBake.

Build Layout

During build, certain structures are setup in the build directory of the main project. This directory should never be added to the git repository, and is included in .gitignore file. The build directories folders are described below. See build.gradle for the technical details as to what files go where. It is extremely important for the site "bake" or generation.


Name Description
bake This is the finished product after JBake is run with the bake task
bake-cache This is where JBake caches its files to speed up the build; it is cleaned with the clean task
generated-bake This directories directories are generated from preprocessing tasks along with content; JBake uses this
generated-bake/assets Assets which are copied directly to bake from JBake into this structure such as scss->css
generated-bake/content Content files with prepended metadata go here; only those files should go here
generated-bake/templates JBake templates are copied here by preprocess tasks
tomcat This is the home directory of the tomcat process when run

Specifics on the above may be added here if it is deemed more necessary.

Things To Keep In Mind

The various preprocess tasks move files into different areas of the "Build Layout" from the "Source Layout". Those tasks are responsible for copying or processing various discrete file types. If something placed into the src/content structure is not showing up where or as expected, build.gradle is the place to look. Some items could be affected by variables defined in deps.gradle, utils.gradle, or sources under buildSrc as well, so keep this in mind.

How To Bake The Site

There are multiple preprocess tasks in the build which setup the JBake data and structures. These structures and data are setup in a way JBake understands and is configured in the build.

Run the following gradle build to preprocess content plus run JBake, and bake the web site:

Linux and Mac

./gradlew preprocessContent bake


gradlew preprocessContent bake

Using The Local Tomcat Web Server

Once the server is running, the site can be baked or built multiple times, and the site can be continually viewed in the browser.

Run Tomcat

From a separate terminal, change to the project directory, and run:

./gradlew run

This aspect of the build needs to be modified to allow the Tomcat server to fork, and continue to exist independent of the Gradle build. At the moment it consumes the shell/command line. This also hogs a Gradle daemon.

Stop Tomcat

To stop the local Tomcat server, from a seperate terminal run:

./gradlew stop

or in the same one as run press CONTROL-C; hopefully this will change in the future.

Gradle Tasks of Note

Build tasks

  1. clean - deletes the build directory
  2. compileContentSass - compiles the projects SaSS files to the build directory.
  3. preprocessContent - runs all preprocess tasks to prepare for a bake
  4. preprocessContentAssets - pre-processes all .css, .js (not in the minimize list), images, etc from the content directory into the generated assets directory
  5. preprocessContentStatics - pre-processes all .html, .md, and possibly other files which have metadata/front matter in a side car file of the same name and extension with an extra .yml extension after that
  6. preprocessContentTemplates - pre-processes the *.gsp and *.gsp.yml files under content for baking as Groovy templates; edit global.yml to add data used in content other than YAML front matter
  7. preprocessTemplates - pre-processes the templates for JBake to use for baking

Documentation tasks

  1. bake - bakes a jbake project; the final generator

Run tasks

  1. run - runs the Tomcat server
  2. stop - stops the Tomcat server


A repository to cleanup the older NetBeans website sources to have a clean repository for the new website to cleanup history and big files etc



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