What is DocPad?

DocPad is a next generation web architecture; allowing for content management via the file system, rendering via plugins, and static site generation for deployment anywhere. It's built with Node.js and Express.js, making it naturally fast and easily extendable.

Problems with Traditional Web Architectures

Despite all the amazing wonder of current web application architectures, they're mostly:

  • Inherently slow
    • Usually built on live then die and blocking platforms
    • Performance is an afterthought, re-render every single time (by default, caching can be enabled to improve this)
  • Bloated
    • Huge include everything code base, little or no code re-use (especially between frameworks)
    • Overkill for everything, no single project will use every feature of the CMS
  • Complex
    • Gigantic learning curves, usually measured in months instead of days/hours
    • You require CMS/framework developers instead of web developers
  • Difficult
    • Setting up a new website is time consuming and complex
    • Uh oh, database not installed or version invalid
    • Migrations and deployments are a royal pain in the ass
  • Limited
    • WYSIWYG editors are sucky and stupid - why re-invent the wheel? We're already trained with and love our desktop counterparts (Sublime Text, Vim, Byword etc.)
    • Abstractions on the go? Forget it - you're boxed in, unless you've got a machete
    • Want to use your own pre-processors, markups, and templating engines? Tough, that's handled by the core.

DocPad, a Next Generation Web Architecture

On the other hand, let's compare that with DocPad, which is:

  • Website inherently fast
    • Built on a stay alive and non-blocking platform
    • Performance from the ground up, re-render only when changes occur (by default, can be configured differently)
  • Lightweight
    • Tiny core with anything re-usable abstracted out into a module other systems can use
    • Non-essential core functionality moved into opt-in plugins
  • Simple
    • Tiny learning curve - get started in minutes and pro within days
    • Web developers already have everything they need to get started
  • Easy
    • Setting up a new website can be done in minutes
    • In-memory database gives us querying without the need for a manual installation
    • Migrations and deployments are handled via Git, the tool we are used to
  • Robust
    • Use your desktop counterparts to edit content naturally (Sublime Text, Vim, Byword etc.)
    • Abstraction friendly - code the way you want, how you want
    • Use whatever language, pre-processor, markup, templating engine you want - it's all covered via our opt-in plugins (if it isn't it's very easy to add)

Besides this, thanks to the opt-in modular philosophy of node, we benefit from all the innovations of the community as a whole, including:

So as the node community grows and innovates, so do we. Awesome.

Comparison Table

For those who like tables, here's the above in table form:

Feature Usual CMS (Drupal, Wordpress) Usual Static Site Generator (Jekyll) DocPad
Talent requirements CMS developer Backend+frontend developer Frontend developer
Developers proficient in Months Days Days
Plugin and extension system Yes No Yes
Asset pipeline No Implicit & bundled Explicit & extendable
Markup languages (markdown, rst, etc) No 1 bundled Via plugins
Pre-processors (sass, less, etc) No No Via plugins
Template engines (eco, jade, etc) No 1 bundled Via plugins
Database querying Yes No Via Query-Engine
Layouts Yes Yes Yes
Static website output No Yes Yes
Re-render each request Yes No Via dynamic field
Extend the webserver Yes No Via events and API
Watching N/A Yes Yes
Differential regenerations N/A No Yes
Live reload No No Via livereload plugin
Partials No No Via partials plugin
Manual database installation required Yes No No
Import pages from file system No Yes Yes
Import pages from external database (MongoDB, MySQL etc.) Yes No Via plugins
Import pages from external services (Tumblr, Dropbox, GitHub etc.) No No Via plugins
Import data from external services (Atom, XML, JSON etc.) No No Via feedr plugin
WYSIWYG editors Yes No Via plugins
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