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Code4Lib 2018 Workshop: Getting Started with Static Website Generators

Slides and other materials for the "Getting Started with Static Website Generators" preconference workshop at code4lib 2018. See the conference page for more details. Created by Kaitlin Newson and Kim Pham.

You can view the slides with rawgit.

The 'docs' directory hosts the built Hugo website from the 'exampleSite' directory. The site is available at

Hugo Exercises

  • 7 exercises in 45 minutes, about 5 minutes per exercise but it's really go at your own pace
  • Instead of going through together a set of instructions of things you can do with Hugo, we're going to take a less traditional format of independent learning, the same way that you might have to figure out a new technology on your own time, but benefitting from other people around to help you
  • We'll provide minimal written/verbal instruction. We encourage you to read the Hugo documentation and google/duckduckgo for help!
  • If you have questions, ask your neighbour. Code learning is social. If there's still any remaining questions, put up a stickie and one of us will come and help out.
  • We're going to take up the exercises after 10, 20, and 45 minutes.
  • When we take up the exercises, We're going to ask you:
    • Show us how you worked through the problem. What resources did you consult?
    • Provide everyone with a walkthrough of the answer we'll follow along on our screen.
    • What problems did you run into along the way? Talk about the tiny mistakes you might have made along the way, things like syntax errors, formatting issues, and so on.

Exercise 1

Basic Usage - Creating Content

Although Hugo doesn't have a GUI to manage and edit content, it's not only designed for developers to use. The use of readable standards like Markdown, the templates, and content organization layouts make it a little easier for content managers and authors to use.

The first exercise is to go through a typical authoring and publishing workflow.

  • Add a new Portfolio page
  • Your new Portfolio should appear on the homepage and include an image
  • The Portfolio page should be called 'Dog 7'
  • Create the page as a draft
  • View the page as a draft
  • Then, publish it and view it again

Exercise 2


  • Create and edit the Archetype for Portfolio so that everytime you create a new Portfolio page, the front matter (aka page metadata) looks like the front matter found in content/portfolio/
  • Archetypes are files located in the archetypes/ directory of your project. Hugo recognizes that the files in this directory correspond to your website’s content types based on their filename. It is here that you would put in the front matter variables for your content types. Archetypes facilitate consistent metadata across your website content and allow content authors to quickly generate instances of a content type via the hugo new command.
  • If you want to keep working with Archetypes, add another Archetype for Testimonials, create a new Testimonial and view the page.

10 minute mark: Take up 1, 2

Exercise 3

List Page Templates

A list page template is a template used to render multiple pieces of content in a single HTML page. You can create a list page for your different content types, and provides support for taxonomies, sections, and also RSS. List pages have associated content files, which Hugo recognizes as the file in your content type directory.

You can copy the list.html file found in layouts/_default/list.html at and put it in a layouts/portfolio directory. Modify this html template to resemble the baseof.html file in the hugo-creative-portfolio-theme folder.

  • Your list page should provide a link to every Portfolio page
  • Anytime a new Portfolio page is created it will appear there
  • Create an index page ( for your Portfolio content type located in exampleSite/content/portfolio, that content will appear in your Portfolio list page.

Exercise 4

List Page Templates - Summary Page

  • Create summaries for your lists instead of the list of dates.

  • You'll need to create a summary.html file. You can copy the example from using the sample code from layouts/_default/summary.html. This is going to be the layout that is going to be applied to your list content.

  • Then, in your list.html file, refer to your summary.html by using {{ .Render "summary"}}. See the layouts/_default/list.html example found in This will render each item in your list using the summary layout.

20ish minute mark: Take up 3, 4

Exercise 5


Shortcodes are simple snippets inside your content files calling built-in or custom templates. You can use them to embed media and other external popular types of content. They're designed to be simple and reusable, without having to repeatedly put in messy html into your markdown files.

Embed one of the following sources into a new Portfolio page using shortcodes:

Exercise 6

Custom CSS

Play around with the styling of the site. Try and do the following:

  1. Change the theme's style option from 'sea' to 'pink'
  2. Change the "Good Dogs" title in the sidebar to 36px and a different colour
  3. Add a box shadow to each dog portfolio image
  • You're going to edit the custom.css file found in static/css/custom.css.

Exercise 7

Custom CSS - overriding existing fonts with web fonts

Grab a couple of fonts from Google Fonts and use them to override the fonts on your website. You'll want to edit just the title and body of each dog portfolio post.

  • There are a few options to load the font source. You could create a partials folder with the path layouts/partials. Copy head.html from copy from themes/hugo-creative-portfolio-theme/layouts/partials/head.html into the partials folder. The head.html found in your partials folder will override the head.html in your themes folder.
  • In your partials/head.html folder, add the font source using
  • The other option is to load the font source directly to your custom css using @import

Exercise 8

Here are a few other ideas for you to try out:

  • Image Processing
  • Image Metadata
  • Page Resource
  • Contact email integration
  • Create a new page where you get all image resources

40-45 minute mark: Take up 5, 6, 7, show and tell other things people did


Exercise 1

Exercise 2

For new Archetypes:

While Hugo supports content nested at any level, the top levels (i.e. content/) are special in Hugo and are considered the content type used to determine layouts etc. To read more about sections, including how to nest them, see sections.

Exercise 3

Exercise 4 Hint: Use {{ .Render "summary"}}

Exercise 5

Exercise 6

Exercise 7

Read You can create a layout/partials folder and create a head.html file to override the themes/hugo-creative-portfolio-theme/layouts/partials/head.html.

In Google Fonts, grab the link href they provide after you select the fonts you want to use.

Other readings:

Exercise 8


Pre-conference workshop for Code4Lib 2018 on static site generators




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