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Bonsai is a static web site generator, it uses the best tools available for site construction and adheres to best web practices.

What it does

  • Provides a tiny HTML5, liquid driven template set.
  • Implies a simple structure to get started faster.
  • An inbuilt server for development. No setup required.
  • Tasks to export the site to output. Upload the contents of output. Job done.
  • Access to page hierarchy through children, siblings, ancestors and navigation.
  • Generates sitemap.xml ready for search engines to spider your site.
  • Generates robots.txt to be friendly to search engines.

Getting started

  • Install bonsai

    gem install bonsai

  • Run the generator

    bonsai --plant [NAME]

Type bonsai --help for any help with commands


  • Introducing Bonsai - at Melbourne Ruby, January 2010

Development server

Unlike other static generators, bonsai provides you with a built in web server. Once you've generated the necessary files (generator included) you can simply start developing. Type bonsai --cultivate in the root of the generated site, a web server (rack, with thin) will start up.

It will also watch for when you save files - taking care of processing your sass files - kind of like autotest.

Production server

This is the cool part. Drop a bonsai generated site under pretty much anything. Apache, Nginx, Lighttpd - I don't care.

The generator will provide you with a .htaccess file that will turn on gzip/deflate compression for static assets as well as set long standing http caching timestamps and etags.


  • Run bonsai --repot
  • Upload the contents of site-root/output to your production server
    • For example: rsync -ave ssh ./output/

Ruby implementations

Bonsai runs under a number of Ruby implementations, MRI (1.8.7, 1.9.1, 1.9.2, 1.9.3), RBX (1.8 mode), JRuby (1.8 mode, 1.9 mode). Check travis to see the specifics.

Have you used this for a real job?

Yes. I built (and content filled) a web site with around 160 pages in 5 days.

When I found something that didn't quite work, was too slow or perhaps not even possible I wrote a spec and implemented it later. Better software from real requirements. (I used every feature I implemented)



  • Anthony Kolber for writing, then rewriting Stacey from scratch. We spent many hours talking about best practice and software UX.
  • Lincoln Stoll for reminding me to use the tools that I know best


Note on Patches/Pull Requests

  • Fork the project.
  • Make your feature addition or bug fix.
  • Add tests for it. This is important so I don't break it in a future version unintentionally.
  • Commit, do not mess with rakefile, version, or history. (if you want to have your own version, that is fine but bump version in a commit by itself I can ignore when I pull)
  • Send me a pull request. Bonus points for topic branches.


Copyright (c) 2010 Ben Schwarz. See LICENSE for details.