Colorful toy alphabet blocks

Beginner’s luck #3: adding a Zola starter

And then there were seven

June 25, 2021
Last modified July 20, 2021

Image: Susan Holt Simpson; Unsplash

Update, 2021-07-20: Due to breaking changes introduced in Zola version 0.14.0 (released 2021-07-19), DO NOT use either starter set mentioned herein with that version or higher.

This will be an unusually short entry. I just wanted to advise that I’ve built my seventh static site generator (SSG) starter set. It uses Zola, and you can find its GitHub repository at There’s also a live demo.

Unfamiliar with Zola? It’s a Rust-based SSG that came about because its creator, Vincent Prouillet, was using the Go-based Hugo. He loved the fact that Hugo was a single binary (see my article, “Eleventy and Hugo: comparing and contrasting,” for some insight into why that can be appealing) but became frustrated by the unwieldiness of Go templating. Instead, he decided to build a very Hugo-like SSG but with much simpler templating, based on his own creation: the Tera template engine. If you’re familiar with how Nunjucks reads and works in Eleventy, you’ll find Tera’s syntax and feature set quite familiar and, therefore, comfortable.

If you want to use this starter set, be sure to check the repo README for some important details—especially if you’re interested in using footnotes in your Markdown. The README also notes that I don’t plan any additional development on this set for the time being. This is for the same reasons as with my Hugo starter sets, mainly that there are certain needed features or compatibilities which each respective SSG lacks, as I complained a few days ago about Hugo.

All that aside, I had some nerdy fun building this starter, debugging it, and generally learning more about how Zola works. Perhaps it will similarly appeal to your own geekiness.

Update, 2021-06-26: I’ve now added an eighth starter repo. It’s another Zola starter (with a demo version also live), but uses Tailwind CSSincluding the JIT mode, which Hugo still doesn’t support—rather than Sass. Unlike the other repo that I added yesterday, this one likely will stay in active development at least for a while because of Zola’s ability to work with Tailwind and JIT, although I still am perturbed by Zola’s own shortcomings (notably about footnote-handling).

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