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Explaining Eleventy (11ty) - The Beginner-Friendly Static Site Generator

Discover why Eleventy is an ideal choice for beginners looking to learn a static site generator.

Written on Jun 19, 2024 | About 2 min reading time

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Getting Started with Eleventy

If you're new to the world of static site generators (SSGs), Eleventy is an excellent choice to start your journey. Think of Eleventy as a friendly companion that takes the complexity out of building websites, making it an ideal choice for beginners.

Simplicity at its Core

Eleventy's beauty lies in its simplicity. Just like a well-organized toolbox, Eleventy provides you with the essential tools you need to build websites without overwhelming you with unnecessary clutter. It's designed to stay out of your way, allowing you to focus on creating great content and crafting a seamless user experience.

The Simplicity of Nunjucks Templating

One of the key features that make Eleventy beginner-friendly is its use of Nunjucks as the templating language. Nunjucks is like a friendly translator that helps you bridge the gap between your content and the final rendered HTML.

{% if items and items.length > 0 %} 
  {% for item in items %}
    <li>{{ item }}</li> 
  {% endfor %}
  {% endif %}

Nunjucks syntax reads like plain English, making it easy to understand and use. It's like having a conversation with your website, telling it exactly what you want it to do. To see the full capabilities of Nunjucks check out the full docs here.

Eleventy as a Bakery

To further simplify complex concepts, let's use an analogy. Imagine Eleventy as a bakery, where you provide the ingredients (your content), and Eleventy bakes them into a delicious website (the final HTML).

  • Content Files: These are your raw ingredients, like flour, sugar, and eggs. They contain the text, images, and data that make up your website.
  • Nunjucks Templates: Think of these as the recipes that tell Eleventy how to combine and present your ingredients in an appealing way.
  • Eleventy Configuration: This is like the oven settings, allowing you to customize how your website is "baked" and served to visitors.

Just like a skilled baker follows a recipe, Eleventy takes your content files and templates, mixes them together according to your configuration, and produces a beautifully crafted website.

Why Choose Eleventy

Eleventy stands out as a beginner-friendly static site generator for several reasons:

  1. Zero-config by Default: Unlike some other SSGs, Eleventy doesn't require complex configuration out of the box. You can start building immediately without getting bogged down by setup hurdles.
  2. Flexible and Extensible: While Eleventy keeps things simple, it's also highly flexible and extensible. You can customize it to suit your specific needs as you gain more experience.
  3. Vibrant Community: Eleventy has an active and supportive community of developers who are always happy to lend a hand and share their knowledge with newcomers.
  4. Lightweight and Performant: Eleventy generates lean, high-performance websites that load quickly, providing an excellent user experience for your visitors.

Whether you're a complete beginner or an experienced developer looking for a simple, no-frills SSG, Eleventy is an excellent choice. Its simplicity, user-friendly templating, and helpful analogies make it a joy to learn and use. To see installation docs or learn more visit the Eleventy website or the Eleventy Github repo (remember to give it a star ⭐).

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