Deplot is a lightweight and very extensible static web site generator written in ruby.


Deplot is intended to simplify the process of creating and maintaining a static web site. Its simple DSL makes it easy to describe and understand the structure of a web site, while giving you power over every part of the building process.

Using deplot


The current deplot gem is published on, so you only need to type the following command into your favorite shell (sudo may be necessary, depending on your setup):

$ gem install deplot

The structure of a deplot project

A standard deplot project consists of a folder (the root folder) with the following structure:

- assets/
- Deplotfile
- documents/
- media/
- modules/

Only the Deplotfile is necessary for deplot to run without errors; but in order to build a website, you probably need some content. By default, all output goes to this root directory: as soon as you build the project, the root folder will contain a lot more folders and files.

A simple example

The core of a deplot project, the Deplotfile, uses the mentioned DSL that makes it easy to understand the different processes to build the website.

For example, if you were to set up a blog with one page per blog post and a collection of posts on the front page, you could write this simple code:

documents_in "posts" do
    collect_in "index.html"
    output_to "posts"

Now every post in documents/posts/ is first being collected in index.html and then rendered into its single page, posts/<filename>.html.

To make this work, you first need to install the deplot gem and invoke deplot like this:

$ deplot make

Deplot uses tilt to render all content and layout files and is therefore able to process almost anything from ERB to Markdown.

Command reference

Render blocks

The top-level render blocks are built using the two methods documents_in (as seen in the previous example) and media_in. They are called with two arguments: the path to the folder containing the source files (relative to documents/ and media/, respectively) and a block that contains all the instructions for rendering the sources. At the moment, media_in is currently only able to filter and copy files:

media_in "images" do
    filter :only => [/.*.png$/]
    copy_to "img"

Inline render blocks

There are situations in which you may want to render multiple sets of files to different parts of your website (a newsticker in the sidebar, for example). The two commands output_documents_in and collect_documents_in will take care of this by returning the rendered content as array and string, respectively. In the following example, both layout and content files could then make use of the variable "@news":

documents_in "pages" do
    @news = collect_documents_in "news"
    output_to "/"

copy_to (media only)

copy_to does exactly what you would expect of it: it copies the source files into the specified directory.

output_to (documents only)

output_to is the equivalent to copy_to in that it renders every source into a single file in the given directory. Unlike copy_to, it is able to take a block as last argument that can be used for instructions specific to this output directory.

collect_in (documents only)

collect_in concatenates all the rendered files and writes them to a single file. Like output_to, it can be called with a block (the apply example makes use of this feature).

render (documents only)

render expects a block. This block is called when rendering (the only argument is the array of sources) and replaces the default renderer. You can use this method to define your own rendering process. The following code parses each source as YAML and renders a template using the YAML data:

render do |sources|
  sources.each do |source|
     = YAML::load(source[:content])
    post_renderer ="assets/post.erb")
    source[:content] = post_renderer.render(nil, )


The filter command is available for both media and document renderers and is used to filter out files from the specified sources. It can be used in two ways:

filter :only => [/.*.markdown$/]
filter :exclude => [/.*.erb$/]


With sort, you can specify wheter you want to sort the sources ascending (default) or descending based on the file name:

sort :descending


The mightiest of all commands, apply, can be used to execute custom code (so-called modules) in the context of the current set of sources. Modules are searched for in the modules/ folder of your project and need to be included in the Deplotfle (use :teaser for teaser.rb). For our basic blog, we may want to shorten the text displayed on the front page and display a link to the post page:

class Teaser < DeplotPreprocessor
  def preprocess source, arguments
    link = "posts/" + File.basename(source[:filename]).gsub(/\.md/, ".html")
    source[:content] = "#{source[:content][0..40]}… <a href=\"#{link}\">Read on &raquo;</a>"

Now we can include this preprocessor to be used for index.html as follows:

use :teaser

documents_in "posts" do
    collect_in "index.html" do
        apply :teaser
    output_to "posts"

There are three types of modules: the filter, the preprocessor, the processor modules.

  • Filter modules are used to sort out files and can be applied everywhere.
  • Preprocessor modules (documents only) alter the source code of the documents (text written in markdown, for example). They cause deplot to read the source files and can't be executed after processor modules.
  • Processor modules (documents only) are used to alter rendered code (HTML, for now). They cause deplot to read and render the source files and need to be executed after preprocessor modules.

layout (documents only)

layout is used to specify a template file which is rendered just before the files is written to disk. This file can be used to link to css and javascript files or display content that stays the same over multiple pages:

    <link rel="stylesheet" href="style.css" />
    <h1>Page title</h1>
    <div class="wrapper">
        <%= yield %>

Planned features

  • Ability to use custom renderer modules
  • Non-media asset processing (compiling, compressing, concatenating) for files written in LESS, SASS, CoffeScript etc.
  • Filter: keep or discard file when one or more, but not necessarily all conditions are met (considered bug)
  • Automatic rebuilding using guard
  • Media resizing and conversion
  • Partials (for more modular layouts)
  • Expand sort functionality

Please submit feature requests and bugfixes in the issue tracker.


See LICENSE file.