Hello Hugo, Goodbye Hugo?

Well nearly…

If you will note, this blog is (at the time of this writing) running on Hugo, so I’ve not entirely given up on Hugo or static site generators just yet. However, Hugo, while excellent, still leaves a lot to be desired as a CMS, especially for someone like me who is not a developer and with no coding skills.

Check out my first Hugo website, Rajiv Abraham Nela. It looks simple enough, and is a one page website that should not take more than 20 minutes for anyone to set up. Right? Gotcha. Took me all of 2 days to get it working, only because Hugo has a steeper learning curve compared to other static site generators like Jekyll and Hexo, which are nearly 100% functional right out of the box.

Now for the good parts about Hugo.

I was able to read through the Hugo Tutorials as well as watch an entire playlist of Hugo Tutorial Videos in a few hours, and I was also able to be up and running with a Hugo website, all in under 24 hours.

This proves a couple of points, Hugo is mature enough for rapid deployment and more importantly has a ton of tutorials and guides and an active community that is willing to share and help.

Now personally I’m more of a DIY guy, and so I don’t really visit support forums and ask around, and instead rely on Google and YouTube for all fixes, but do note that Hugo has active support forums that will help you get moving should you ever find yourself stuck or in a fix.

But here are my main issues with Hugo.

  • It’s not as intuitive or out of the box easy-peasy as WordPress. There is no fire up the post WYSIWYG editor and speak into the microphone (or hack away at the keyboard).
  • Hugo does a lot of weird things (call them bugs or design choice if you will), but they are there. For instance, it would not publish because I did not create a post], or it would not deploy because I did not mention the Hugo version number, and this one is a personal favorite because it took a while to find the fix, Hugo will break the theme and the CSS if you don’t put the baseURL correct in the configuration file.
  • You need to know (or learn) the command line interface to use Hugo.
  • You will also need to learn and use GitHub to actually deploy a website, or find a web host where you can simply and easily upload static files.
  • No on the go or mobile blogging. Easily done with WordPress via an app or sending an email. Even works for blog content like photographs. I couldn’t find much information about getting IndieWeb to work with Hugo. There isn’t even a Slack channel for Hugo on IndieWebCamp though they have dedicated channels for WordPress and Known.
  • Lots of missing information like metadata, search engine optimization, rel=“me” links, etc. that I couldn’t find easily, but extremely important for websites/blogs… especially if they want to be seen and read.
  • And finally, should you get everything working, beware the syntax error will get you. This cost me more than a day of search and fix.

There were some more minor issues, but thankfully all of them have been fixed by simply using Google search.

So now you might be wondering why Hugo at all? Well for starters, I’m a geek and I like to keep trying on new things for size. It also probably means I have a lot of free time on my hands. Also, I have the beginning workings of a plan on a linkblog Abraham’s Linkblog that will have hundreds and even thousands of individual posts (I plan to move all my bookmarks over here eventually), and I am not sure WordPress will be light and sprightly on its feet with thousands of individual posts. I needed to start exploring the option of a static website for my linkblog and that’s how and why I got into Hugo (if you’re wondering).

But these are early days, and there is a lot I still need to learn about Hugo. For now though I plan to continue with Hugo and dig even deeper, and hopefully I’ll have more to write on this matter over the coming days.