It's been more than a year since I last posted on this website. I've been busy and I didn't have something to write about, until now. As I wrote before, I've been running the classic Jekyll/GitHub Pages combo, but I wanted to try something different, something that gave me more control over my website, so I found Pelican.

Similar to Jekyll, Pelican is a static site generator: its output are plain HTML/CSS files that you can upload anywhere, you don't need a backend nor a database. This is great because finding cheap (free) hosting is easy, and Netlify's Started Plan is perfect for this type of websites.

Just like Jekyll, Pelican also supports a wide variety of plugins and themes. The main difference is that Pelican is written in Python, and being a huge Python fan myself, I decided to give it a go. This is the write-up of how I got it working.

1. Setup the project using Poetry

I really like Poetry for managing my dependencies and virtual environments.

You can create a new Poetry project by running:

poetry new new-blog

You can find more information on how to use Poetry by reading the docs.

Now you can start with a simple pyproject.toml file containing some dependencies:

name = "pelican-blog"
version = "0.1.0"
description = ""
authors = ["Andres Arias"]

python = "^3.9"
pelican = {extras = ["markdown"], version = "^4.8.0"}
ipython = "^8.4.0"
pelican-liquid-tags = "^1.0.3"

requires = ["poetry-core>=1.0.0"]
build-backend = "poetry.core.masonry.api"

For those wondering why I'm pulling ipython and pelican-liquid-tags: this is for enabling IPython support on my (future) posts. I don't know if I'll ever need it, but it might come in handy if I ever need to share a plot or two.

Then I can just run

poetry install

to create a new virtual environment and populate it with my dependencies.

(OPTIONAL) you can use Git submodules to add the pelican-themes and pelican-plugins repos to your projects without having to push everything to your repo:

git submodule add theme
git submodule add plugins

This way, you have plenty of plugins and themes quickly available for you.

2. Configure your blog

Your main point of configuration will be the file. All the configuration options are described on the Pelican docs.

Here you can find my configuration file.

3. Kickstart your website

Once everything's installed, you can run the following command to build a basic Pelican structure:

poetry run pelican-quickstart

And the you can run:

poetry run pelican -r -l

to serve a local copy of your site. And when you're done, you can run

poetry run make html

to build the resulting website that you can deploy to your hosting service of choice, or if you keep reading, you can deploy it automatically to Netlify every time you commit changes to you git repo.

3. Setup Netlify to automatically deploy your website

In order to automatically deploy your website you need two files:

runtime.txt: Indicates the Python version to run. Here's a list of available runtimes. Since Python 3.8 is the latest available (as the time I'm writing this), this is the one I'll be using. Just create a file named runtime.txt in your project's root directory containing the runtime version:


netlify.toml: Contains the steps required to build your website. For our Pelican project, the netlify.toml file would be:

publish = "output"
command = """
pip install -q poetry &&
poetry config true &&
poetry install -v &&
poetry run make html

This means that every time we push changes, Netlify will install poetry, create the virtual environment, download the dependencies and build the resulting HTML files.

Once this is all set, just point your Publish directory in Netlify to the output/ folder and link it to your Github repo.

That's it! Now every time you commit something, Netlify will automatically pull the new changes and deploy them.

That's all for now, thank you for reading and I hope this was useful.