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 (mostly) configured site:

$ nikola init mysite
Creating Nikola Site
====================

[1970-01-01T00:00:00Z] INFO: init: Created empty site at mysite.

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

# 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 = "https://getnikola.com/"
BLOG_EMAIL = "ralsina@example.com"
BLOG_DESCRIPTION = "This is a demo site (not a blog) for Nikola."

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

# you can also keep the current content of POSTS if you want a blog with your site
POSTS = ()
# remove destination directory to generate pages in the root directory
PAGES = (
    ("pages/*.rst", "", "story.tmpl"),
    ("pages/*.txt", "", "story.tmpl"),
    ("pages/*.html", "", "story.tmpl"),
)

# And to avoid a conflict because blogs try to generate /index.html
INDEX_PATH = "blog"

And now we are ready to create our first page:

$ nikola new_page
Creating New Page
-----------------

Title: index
Scanning posts....done!
[1970-01-01T00:00:00Z] INFO: new_page: Your page's text is at: pages/index.rst

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

$ nikola serve
[1970-01-01T00:00:00Z] INFO: serve: Serving HTTP on 0.0.0.0 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: 1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
.. 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). date, tags and link doesn’t matter at all in pages. description is useful for SEO purposes if you care for that.

And below, the content. By default Nikola uses reStructuredText but it supports a ton of formats, including Markdown, plain HTML, Jupyter Notebooks, BBCode, Wiki, and Textile. We will use reStructuredText for this example, but some people might find it a bit too limiting — if that is the case, try using HTML for your pages (Nikola does this on the index page, for example).

So, let's give the page a nicer title, and some fake content. Since the default Nikola theme (called bootstrap3) is based on Bootstrap you can use anything you like from it:

.. title: Welcome To The Fake Site
.. slug: index
.. date: 1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
.. tags:
.. link:
.. description: Fake Site version 1, welcome page!


.. class:: jumbotron col-md-6

.. admonition:: This is a Fake Site

    It pretends to be about things, but is really just an example.

    .. raw:: html

       <a href="https://getnikola.com/" class="btn btn-primary btn-lg">Click Me!</a>


.. class:: col-md-5

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himenaeos.

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 using the PRETTY_URLS option (on by default)

And that's it. You will want to change the NAVIGATION_LINKS option to create a reasonable menu for your site, you may want to modify 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 POSTS option like this:

POSTS = (
    ("posts/*.rst", "blog", "post.tmpl"),
    ("posts/*.txt", "blog", "post.tmpl"),
    ("posts/*.html", "blog", "post.tmpl"),
)

Create a post with nikola new_post and that's it, you now have a blog in the /blog/ subdirectory of your site — you may want to link to it in NAVIGATION_LINKS.

If you want to see a site implementing all of the above, check out the Nikola website.

I hope this was helpful!