Replacing nanoc with middleman for static web site generation

Nanoc and middleman are comparable tools. Both provide static web site generation from ruby templates, such as erb, haml etc. I discover that middleman is easier to configure and has better/simpler extension support. So, I decided to convert my existing web site to work with middleman.

Here are the steps that you need to do in order to use middleman or migrate your web site from other static site generator.

1. If you have old .rvmrc file, remove it and create 2 new files:

  • .ruby-version:
  • .ruby-gemset:

This is the new way of handling ruby version and gemset name introduced in latest versions of bundler.

2. Include into your Gemfile at least these gems:

gem "middleman"
gem "middleman-livereload"
gem "haml"
gem "redcarpet"

In this minimal configuration we have support for dynamic reloading of web pages when they get changed and support for haml and markdown engines.

3. Move all files from your content folder into new sources folder.:

mv content source

4. Remove compass_config.rb and create new config.rb file. This is configuration file for middleman:

set :build_dir, "public"

set :css_dir, "assets/stylesheets"
set :js_dir, "assets/javascripts"
set :images_dir, "assets/images"

set :markdown_engine, :redcarpet

set :markdown, fenced_code_blocks: true, autolink: true, smartypants: true,
    gh_blockcode: true, lax_spacing: true

set :haml, { ugly: true }

Make sure that your styles, javascripts and images are located in:

  • source/assets/stylesheets
  • source/assets/javascripts
  • source/assets/images

5. Adding language highlight support

If you want support for language highlight in markdown files, include this gem into Gemfile:

gem "middleman-syntax"

and these lines to config.rb file:

configure :development do
  activate :syntax, :line_numbers => true

configure :build do
  activate :syntax, :line_numbers => true

Make sure that you activated syntax highlight in development configuration too.

6. Adding partials support

If you need partials in your project, use partial command:

      = partial "common/header"

7. Other miscellaneous changes

  • Remove all related to nanoc files from lib folder.

  • Move common folder (if you have) from layout/common into common folder.

  • Rename layouts/default.haml into layouts/layout.haml.

8. Generate static web site:

rm -rf public
middleman build

9. Start middleman and then access your web site from the browser:

middleman &

open http://localhost:4567