Creating a Site (Not a Blog) with Nikola

One of the most frequent questions I get about Nikola is "but how do I create a site that's not a blog?". And of course, that's because the documentation is heavily blog-oriented. This document will change that ;-)

Since it started, Nikola has had the capabilities to create generic sites. For example, Nikola's own site is a fairly generic one. Let's go step by step on how you can do something like that.

As usual when starting a nikola site, you start with nikola init which creates a empty semi-configured site:

$ nikola init mysite
Created empty site at mysite.

Then we go into the new mysite folder, and make the needed changes in the conf.py configuration file:

##############################################
# Configuration, please edit
##############################################


# Data about this site
BLOG_AUTHOR = "Roberto Alsina"
BLOG_TITLE = "Not a Blog"
# This is the main URL for your site. It will be used
# in a prominent link
SITE_URL = "http://notablog.ralsina.me"
BLOG_EMAIL = "[email protected]"
BLOG_DESCRIPTION = "This is a demo site (not a blog) for Nikola."

#
# Some things in the middle you don't really need to change...
#

post_pages = (
    ("pages/*.txt", "", "story.tmpl", False),
)

And now we are ready to create our first page:

$ nikola new_post -p
Creating New Post
-----------------

Enter title: index
Your post's text is at:  pages/index.txt

Note

The -p option in the nikola new_post command means we are creating a page and not a blog post.

We can now build and preview our site:

$ nikola build
Scanning posts.done!
.  render_site:output/categories/index.html
.  render_sources:output/index.txt
.  render_rss:output/rss.xml
:
:
: [Much more of the same]

$ nikola serve
Serving HTTP on 127.0.0.1 port 8000 ...

And you can see your (very empty) site in http://localhost:8000

So, what's in that pages/index.txt file?

.. title: index
.. slug: index
.. date: 2013/03/01 10:26:17
.. tags:
.. link:
.. description:


Write your post here.

Title is the page title, slug is the name of the generated HTML file (in this case it would be index.html) the date doesn't matter much in not-blogs, same for tags and link. Description is useful for SEO purposes if you care for that.

And below, the content. By default you are expected to use reStructured text but Nikola supports a ton of formats, including Markdown, plain HTML, BBCode, Wiki, and Textile.

So, let's give the page a nicer title, and some fake content. Since the default Nikola theme (called "site") is based on bootstrap you can use anything you like from it:

.. title: Welcome To The Fake Site
.. slug: index
.. date: 2013/03/01 10:26:17
.. tags:
.. link:
.. description: Fake Site version 1, welcome page!


.. class:: hero-unit span6

.. admonition:: This is a Fake Site

    It pretends to be about things, but is really just an example.
    So, don't click this button, it leads nowhere.

    .. class:: btn

    Click Me!


.. class:: span5

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Mauris non nunc turpis.
Phasellus a ullamcorper leo. Sed fringilla dapibus orci eu ornare. Quisque
gravida quam a mi dignissim consequat. Morbi sed iaculis mi. Vivamus ultrices
mattis euismod. Mauris aliquet magna eget mauris volutpat a egestas leo rhoncus.
In hac habitasse platea dictumst. Ut sed mi arcu. Nullam id massa eu orci
convallis accumsan. Nunc faucibus sodales justo ac ornare. In eu congue eros.
Pellentesque iaculis risus urna. Proin est lorem, scelerisque non elementum at,
semper vel velit. Phasellus consectetur orci vel tortor tempus imperdiet. Class
aptent taciti sociosqu ad litora torquent per conubia nostra, per inceptos
himenaeos.

[And more in the same vein]

TIP: Nice URLs

If you like your URLs without the ".html" then you want to create folders and put the pages in index.html inside them. Example:

nikola new_post -p pages/foo/index.txt

which will create a page you could access as "http://yoursite.com/foo"

And that's it. You will want to change the SIDEBAR_LINKS option to create a reasonable "menu" for your site, you will want to hack the theme (check nikola help bootswatch_theme for a quick & dirty solution), and you may want to add a blog later on, for company news or whatever.

TIP: So, how do I add a blog now?

First, change the post_pages option like this:

post_pages = (
    ("pages/*.txt", "", "story.tmpl", False),
    ("posts/*.txt", "blog", "post.tmpl", True),
)

And to avoid a conflict (because blogs try to generate /index.html:

INDEX_PATH = "blog"

Create a post with nikola new_post and that's it, you now have a blog in http://yoursite.com/blog (you may want to add links to it in SIDEBAR_LINKS of course).

You can see the finished site in http://notablog.ralsina.me and its full configuration in http://ralsina.me/listings/notablog/conf.py.html

I hope this was helpful!

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