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Hugo vs MkDocs: What are the differences?


Here, we will discuss the key differences between Hugo and MkDocs, two popular static site generators.

  1. Development Language: Hugo is built using the Go programming language, while MkDocs is primarily written in Python. This difference in development language affects the ease of customization and the ecosystem of themes and plugins available for each static site generator.

  2. Configuration: Hugo uses a simple configuration file, typically stored in YAML or TOML format, to define site-wide settings and specify content directories. On the other hand, MkDocs relies on a single configuration file, usually in YAML format, to define page structure, navigation, and theme selection.

  3. Markup Language: Hugo supports multiple markup languages, including Markdown, AsciiDoc, and HTML, providing flexibility for authors. MkDocs, however, focuses exclusively on Markdown, simplifying the writing process for content creators.

  4. Template Engine: Hugo employs its own powerful template engine, allowing users to create highly customizable layouts and themes. MkDocs, on the other hand, relies on Jinja2, a popular template engine within the Python ecosystem, which offers a similar level of flexibility but with some differences in syntax and features.

  5. Build Time: Hugo is known for its exceptional build speed and can generate a large static site within seconds. MkDocs, while still relatively fast, may take a little longer to build a site due to its Python-based architecture. The difference in build time can be significant for larger projects with extensive content.

  6. Hosting and Deployment: Hugo generates a website that consists of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files, which can be easily hosted on any web server. MkDocs, on the other hand, generates a static website that can be hosted on a variety of platforms, including popular services like GitHub Pages and Netlify. However, it may require additional configurations or plugins for specific deployment scenarios.

In summary, the key differences between Hugo and MkDocs lie in their development language, configuration methods, supported markup languages, template engines, build time, and the hosting and deployment options they offer.

Decisions about Hugo and MkDocs
Manuel Feller
Frontend Engineer at BI X · | 4 upvotes · 164.3K views

As a Frontend Developer I wanted something simple to generate static websites with technology I am familiar with. GatsbyJS was in the stack I am familiar with, does not need any other languages / package managers and allows quick content deployment in pure HTML or Markdown (what you prefer for a project). It also does not require you to understand a theming engine if you need a custom design.

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Pros of Hugo
Pros of MkDocs
  • 47
    Lightning fast
  • 29
    Single Executable
  • 26
    Easy setup
  • 24
    Great development community
  • 23
    Open source
  • 13
    Write in golang
  • 8
    Not HTML only - JSON, RSS
  • 8
    Hacker mindset
  • 7
    LiveReload built in
  • 4
    Gitlab pages integration
  • 4
    Easy to customize themes
  • 4
    Very fast builds
  • 3
    Well documented
  • 3
    Fast builds
  • 3
    Easy to learn
  • 5
  • 4
    Gitlab integration
  • 3
  • 2

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Cons of Hugo
Cons of MkDocs
  • 4
    No Plugins/Extensions
  • 2
    Template syntax not friendly
  • 1
    Quick builds
  • 1
    Build time increases exponentially as site grows

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What is Hugo?

Hugo is a static site generator written in Go. It is optimized for speed, easy use and configurability. Hugo takes a directory with content and templates and renders them into a full html website. Hugo makes use of markdown files with front matter for meta data.

What is MkDocs?

It builds completely static HTML sites that you can host on GitHub pages, Amazon S3, or anywhere else you choose. There's a stack of good looking themes available. The built-in dev-server allows you to preview your documentation as you're writing it. It will even auto-reload and refresh your browser whenever you save your changes.

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What companies use Hugo?
What companies use MkDocs?
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What are some alternatives to Hugo and MkDocs?
Think of Jekyll as a file-based CMS, without all the complexity. Jekyll takes your content, renders Markdown and Liquid templates, and spits out a complete, static website ready to be served by Apache, Nginx or another web server. Jekyll is the engine behind GitHub Pages, which you can use to host sites right from your GitHub repositories.
Hexo is a fast, simple and powerful blog framework. It parses your posts with Markdown or other render engine and generates static files with the beautiful theme. All of these just take seconds.
The core software is built by hundreds of community volunteers, and when you’re ready for more there are thousands of plugins and themes available to transform your site into almost anything you can imagine. Over 60 million people have chosen WordPress to power the place on the web they call “home” — we’d love you to join the family.
Pelican is a static site generator that supports Markdown and reST syntax. Write your weblog entries directly with your editor of choice (vim!) in reStructuredText or Markdown.
JavaScript is most known as the scripting language for Web pages, but used in many non-browser environments as well such as node.js or Apache CouchDB. It is a prototype-based, multi-paradigm scripting language that is dynamic,and supports object-oriented, imperative, and functional programming styles.
See all alternatives