The simplest static site generator
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Cole Krumbholz Cole Krumbholz
Cole Krumbholz and Cole Krumbholz bumping version
Latest commit efafd56 Jun 18, 2014

Brace Tags

The simplest static site generator

Brace Tags is a static site generator focused on simplicity. It does one thing: solves the problem of having to repeat the same HTML code on several web pages. (In other words, it provides "partials")

The template language provided by Brace Tags has only two tags, include and is.

Static site generation 101

You can use Brace Tags to build a multi-page static website without duplicating navigation or footer code. Here's generally how it works:

  1. Find duplicated code snippets in your HTML files. Extract them into separate files called "partials".

  2. Replace each duplicated code snippet with a special placeholder tag. The tag looks like: {% include mypartial.html %}. This is where the content from a partial will be injected.

  3. Run the tags build command to assemble the website from your source code. You can put the generated site online using any static site hosting provider.

An example Brace Tags website

Here's a simple multi-page website with index.html and about.html files. We can add the main navigation into each page with the include tag.


    {% include nav.html %}  <!-- include the nav partial -->
    Welcome to Brace Tags!


    {% include nav.html %}
    Brace Tags is very simple!

The is tag is used to change the content of a partial based on the file that's currently being generated. You can use this, for example, to highlight the current page in the nav partial.


    <a href="/" {% is index.html %}class="active"{% endis %}>home</a>
    <a href="/about.html" {% is about.html %}class="active"{% endis %}>about</a>

Note: you'll need to define CSS styles separately to take advantage of the active class attribute used above.

Installing Brace Tags

Brace Tags requires Python. Many computers today come with Python pre-installed, including all macbooks. If you have Python, you can install Brace Tags with easy_install by opening up your terminal and typing in:

sudo easy_install brace-tags

(The sudo part will ask you to provide a password. It's required because Brace Tags needs to install the tags command line script.)

Brace has one external dependency, watchdog which is only required if you want to use Brace to monitor a folder for changes, and recompile your site on the fly. Before using the --watch option you'll need to install watchdog with sudo easy_install watchdog.

Using Brace Tags

Tags has two commands, the build command and the serve command. Build is used to generate a site from a source folder.

tags build

By default, Brace Tags compiles all the .html files in your site. Tags places the generated site in the _site folder, and ignores those files during future builds.

Once built, the serve command will start a local webserver that you can use to view the website locally with your browser. This is for testing only.

tags serve

For more options and explanation, check out the help:

tags --help

Hosting your static site

Once you've generated a static site with Brace Tags, you can deploy it to any static site host. Github pages and S3 are just a couple of the many options.

Of course we'd love for you host your site with us, on Brace!

Advanced: Extending Brace Tags

If you're a python programmer, you can add your own tags to implement custom functionality on top of Brace Tags.

Custom tags should look like this:

{% mytag argument1 argument2 %}

Optionally, a tag can have a body, like this:

{% mytag %}
  Tag Body
{% endmytag %}

Each time Brace Tags encounters a tag in an input file it checks for a corresponding tag function. If the function exists, it is called and the result is substituted in the output.

In the /tags/ file you'll find a function for each template tag. Add your custom tag functions to that file. They should look something like this:

lang = TemplateLanguage()

def print3x(style, body=u'', context={}):
    ''' A tag that appends 3 copies of its body '''
    result = body + body + body
    if style == "bold":
        result = u'<b>' + result + u'</b>'
    return result

The above function creates a print3x tag that can be used like this:

{% print3x bold %}
  <h1> ROBOTS, MAKE MY HTML! </h1>
{% endprint3x %}

When adding a new tag function, here are some things you should know:

  • The add_tag decorator adds the tag function to the template language.

  • The tag's name is taken from the function's name. Optionally you can use the add_tag_with_name decorator to supply a tag name.

  • The positional arguments of the function define the tag's required arguments. In the above case, the print3x tag requires one argument, a style.

  • If you specify a body keyword argument, then the tag will require a body. The body is the content between the opening tag and an end tag.

  • All tag functions must accept a context keyword argument. This is a dictionary containing contextual data passed in by the generator. By default, context includes a filename key whose value is the file currently being generated.

You can also define tags that accept a variable argument list like so:

def whatever(*args, **kwargs):
    return str(len(args))

When called, the *args parameter will contain the variable argument list, and the body and context keyword args will be in the **kwargs dictionary.

Using your modified version of Brace Tags

You can install your fork of Tags by first uninstalling the stock version...

pip uninstall brace-tags

And then installing your modified version:

pip install -e path/to/your/brace-tags/folder

You don't need to reinstall this package after making changes. The package will stay up-to-date automatically.


Works with python 2.6, 2.7 and now 3.3 thanks to pyarnold.