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Balloon — Static Website Generator

Because balloons generate static...

Balloon is a very simple static site generator. Built for deploying to S3. It works for my needs, but it's pretty simple.

View the source code of my website.

Overview of Balloon

  • uses Swig template language
  • auto convert Markdown to HTML if file ends in .md
    • supports Github-flavored Markdown features
    • auto syntax-highlights code blocks
  • built-in webserver that auto-restarts on changed files
  • S3 deploy functionality

Balloon Static Website Generator


npm install -g balloon-generator


# generate static based on settings in balloon.json (see below)
balloon --output ./another/destination/  # override build directory

# Same as above, except it watches for changes and serves the build directory
balloon --serve
balloon --serve 3000  # with port

# Get help
balloon --help
  Usage: balloon [options]


    -h, --help             output usage information
    -V, --version          output the version number
    -s, --serve [port]     watch and serve files
    -b, --build <path>     override build path

Folder Structure

Here's what a base project looks like:

├── balloon.json  # Main config file (see below)
├── content/      # Website pages live here (markdown and/or HTML)
├── layouts/      # Layouts live here
└── static/       # Everything in here remains untouched (use for images, css, etc)

Here is something a bit more complicated:

├── balloon.json
├── content/
│   ├── index.html
│   ├── rss.xml
│   ├── blog/
│   │   ├── index.html
│   │   └── 2014/
│   │       └── 12/
│   │           ├── 04/
│   │           │   ├── My First
│   │           └── 08/
│   │               └── My Second
├── layouts/
│   ├── rss.xml
│   └── base.html
└── static/
    ├── favicon.ico
    ├── styles/
    │   └── main.css
    └── scripts/
        └── main.js

A few notes on what you see above:

  • URL slugs are automatically generated from file names
  • file paths will be equal to the URL path
    • Example


Balloon looks for a balloon.json file in the directory that it is run from. Here is an example of a config:

    /** Directory to watch */
    "source": "./",

    /** Directory to put built files */
    "build": "build/",

    /** The domain (S3 bucket) to deploy to */
    "domain": "",

     * Context attributs (values) in each of these will apply if
     * the regex pattern (key) matches the URL path of the page
     * being rendered.
    "defaults": {

        ".*": {
            // The only required context variable
            "_layout": "default.html",

            // Some useful variables to be used in templates
            "siteName": "My Website",
            "page_type": "basic"

        "^/blog/.+": {
            "_layout": "blog.html",

            // Change the type for blog posts so the template knows
            // what to do
            "page_type": "blog"

Template Context

Balloon lets you define context variables in balloon.json (see below), but it also provides some default ones that should be useful. All Balloon-generated variables start with underscores.

  • _title name of the file, without the extension
  • _slug full URL path of the current page
  • _created an extracted date if the URL path contains the pattern /YYYY/MM/DD/
    • this is an object containing the properties timestamp, year, month, day
  • _pages a list of all the pages that were rendered, along with the context for each one
    • only files named index.html and rss.xml have access to _pages
    • Example: useful for a /blog/index.html page to list all blog posts

Other Notes

Right now I'm the only person I know of using Balloon in production. You can check out my site (also view the source). I'm always open to chat as well. You can find my contact info on my website.


Generate static websites easily






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