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Ramen -- A minimal tool to build static websites


With Docker:

$ docker run -v `pwd`:/data samoht/ramen

With opam:

$ opam install ramen
$ ramen

Check ramen --help for more details.


Filesystem structure

The CLI help message for Ramen says:

Usage: ramen [--data=<path>] [--pages=<path>] [--site=<path>] [-v]

These three directories are:

  • site/: the generated website, created by Ramen. Add images or stylesheet here but do not edit the contents of processed files there. Copy that directory to your live website to put your static website live.

  • pages/: the base templates. All the templates in that directory are processed by Ramen and the expanded results are copied into site/.

  • data/: the data read by Ramen used to feed the templates in pages/.

Data Types

There are 2 kinds of data:

  • raw data: Ramen uses these to complete template variables. Example of raw data could either be a raw file or a header value.

  • collections: Ramen uses these to expand for loops. denotes the entry bar in the collection foo. These are built from directories in data/ or from structured files (with .yml or .json extensions). Collection are ordered:

    • when built from files, using lexicographic order.
    • when built from JSON or Yaml, using the order in which items are declared.

Global Variables

Ramen predefines the global collection, with the following contents:

global description the date of build.
site.pages contents of the pages/ directory. the current page being built.

Syntax of Templates

Every template in pages has the following structure:

var_1: value_1
var_2: value_2

The body can contain templates of the form:

  • variables: {{ var }}: Ramen replaces these with their raw values defined in the page header or in the data directory (see bellow). Variables are alpha-numeric characters with - and _. Full variables can contain dots, to explore collections. For instance, if foo has two keys a and b (as for instance their exists two files data/foo/a and data/foo/b) the contents of these could be accessed in template bodies using foo.a and foo.b.

    When reading files in the data/ directory, Ramen always removes the file extensions to build the variable names: the contents of foo/a.html is available as foo.a. In some cases (see bellow for details), the contents is pre-processed.

    Raw data can also contains the {{ .. }} quotations. They are expanded recursively by Ramen.

  • aliases: {{ let n = var in }} binds n to the contents of the variable var. This is useful to factorize some code.

  • loops: {{ for i in var do }} <body> {{ done }}: Ramen expands the body for each entry in the collection var.

    For instance, if data/foo contains two files data/foo/ and data/foo/ which contains toto and titi respectively, then:

    {{ for i in foo do }}
    Hello {{ i }}.
    {{ done }}

    is equivalent to:

    Hello toto.
    Hello titi.

    When a collection is used as a parameter of a loop, two extra fields are added in the context: first and last. These are useful to test for start or end conditions, for instance:

    {{ for i in foo do }}
      {{ if (i = foo.first) }}
      Hello first {{ i }}.
      {{ else }}
      Hello {{ i }}
      {{ fi }}
    {{ done }}

    Moreover, every collection can be seen as a doubly-linked list, where elements are linked by the prev and next fields. For instance, the previous code snippet is equivalent to:

    {{ for i in foo do }}
      {{ if (!i.prev) }}
      Hello first {{ i }}.
      {{ else }}
      Hello {{ }}
      {{ fi }}
    {{ done }}

    The order in which the iteration is done is by default the order in which the collection is built (lexical order, order in which items appears in a file, etc). It is possible to control the iteration order by using the built-in function rev(..) and sort(..,<id>) where id is the key in which to base the sort.

  • conditions: {{ if (cond_1) }} <body_1> ... {{ elif (cond_n) }} <body_n> {{ else }} <body_x> {{ fi }}. Ramen picks the first <body_i> such that cond_i is satisfied or uses <body_x> otherwise (or an empty string if none of the conditions are true and the else clause is missing).

    Conditions expressions the compososition of:

    • single variables: var;
    • equalities: var_1 = var_2 or var_1 = 'string'
    • inequalities: var_1 != var_2 or var_1 != 'string'
    • parentheses: ( expr )
    • negations: ! expr
    • conjonctions: expr_1 && expr_2
    • disjonctions: expr_1 || expr_2

    For instance:

    {{ if (i.title && i = }}
      <div class="nav active">{{i.title}}</div>
    {{ elif (i.title) }}
      <div class"nav">{{i.title}}<div>
    {{ fi }}
  • dictionaries: {{ xxx.[VAR].yyy }} evaluates to xxx.v.yyy where v is the contents of VAR. This could be used in conjunction with for loops to "join" various collections. For example, if you have two collections books and people, you can cross-reference them using:

    {{for i in books do}}
      <div class="book">
        <div class="title">{{i.title}}</div>
        <div class="author">{{people.[].name}}</div>
  • fonctions: {{ VAR(k_1: v_1, ..., k_n: v_n) }} this is similar to evaluating VAR in the context where k_1,...,k_n are bound to v_1,...v_n. For instance, this could be used to parametrize a template to be re-used in various contexts.

    If data/ contains:

    entry: .
    <b>{{entry.title}}</b>: {{entry.contents}}

    then, assuming that foo and bar are collections with a title and contents entries, v can be used as follows:

      <li> {{ v(entry: foo) }} </li>
      <li> {{ v(entry: bar) }} </li>

Supported File Extensions

The following file extensions are supported:

  • <file>.json: the file is transformed into the collection <file>.

  • <file>.md: the file's body is converted from HTML to markdown and is made available as <file>. If the file has some headers, they are available using <file>.<var>.

  • <file>.yml: the file is transformed into the collection <file>. Note: only very limited support for yaml at the moment (no nesting, only key-value).

  • every other files are considered as raw data: <file>.<ext> corresponds to binding where <file> is bound to the contents of that file.


See the examples/ folder.