What is DocPad?

DocPad is a dynamic static-site generator. That is a content management system that takes content from several sources, like files on your computer, and renders them into incredibly fast static output. DocPad's dynamic abilities allows you to pull in data from several sources, re-render when changes occur, and even add dynamic things like contact forms or admin interfaces to your website if desired. DocPad is the ideal choice offering an intuitive rapid web development experience for building web application front-ends and for building websites which content changes a max of once per hour.

Problems with Traditional Web Architectures

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

  • Inherently slow
    • Usually built on blocking, live-then-die platforms
    • Performance is an afterthought, re-render every single time (by default, caching can be enabled to improve this)
  • Bloated
    • Huge, include-everything codebase, with little or no code re-use (especially between frameworks)
    • Overkill for everything, as no single project will use every feature of the CMS
  • Complex
    • Gigantic learning curves, usually measured in months (instead of days or 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: they're handled by the core.

DocPad, a dynamic static-site generator

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

  • Website inherently fast
    • Built on a non-blocking, stay-alive platform
    • Performance from the ground up, re-render only when changes occur (by default, can be configured differently)
  • Lightweight
    • Tiny core, with anything that's re-usable abstracted out into modules that other systems can use
    • All non-essential core functionality lives in opt-in plugins
  • Simple
    • Tiny learning curve; get started in minutes, become a pro in 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 provides 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 (and 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 Usual Static Site Generator 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 Always 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