sissi

The only thing you'll need for creating websites with sissi

This sissi package is no longer maintained. Please use sissi-core and sissi-cli instead.
Last updated a year ago by alexkott .
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sissi – simple static sites

Hi, I’m sissi. It’s a pleasure to meet you!

sissi, that’s short for simple static sites.

It’s also the name of a well-known Austrian empress which became kind of a running gag between my developer parents. So, to everyone else it’s Empress Elisabeth – to you, my friend, it’s just sissi. Your simple static site generator.

Contents

  1. Why the world needs me
  2. What I can do for you
  3. Quick Start
  4. Recommended first steps
  5. Required files
  6. Working With Routes
  7. Server Setup
  8. Contributions
  9. My folks

Why the world needs me

Another static site generator, you may wonder? Well, yes.

Most static site generators are aimed at people who know their way around computers. Servers, command line, you know, all that complicated stuff. Then there’s Wordpress and the likes – tools for heavy users who need a bunch of different functionalities and at least some of the gazillions of plugins available. I am not trying to compete with either!

Instead, I’m here to help if your mom asks you to make her a website. Just real quick and simple. And then she asks you to change the background image. Every. Single. Week. Let me take over, right there!

What I can do for you

I turn your React apps into static sites and offer a simple (yet customisable) built-in CMS to edit contents. Here’s how:

Packages

  • sissi will get you started on a new project with just one command! It’s all you will ever need to build your simple static sites. To make it that easy for you I need help from all these friendly packages who run in the background:

  • sissi-guides helps me link your routes together.

  • sissi-snaps turns your app into a static site.

  • sissi-says makes sure your mom can take care of her own content – yes, it’s a CMS.

  • sissi-moves migrates all your awesome content whenever you make changes to your website structure.

  • sissi-packs sets the stage for you, the developer. (Psst, 'packs' comes from webpack.)

Environment

I breathe JavaScript – I run on Node.js servers only, PHP makes me sick. And my favourite frontend playground is React. I might be able to join you elsewhere but I’ve never tried before so you’ll have to show me how.

And that’s all you need to know! Let’s get started, shall we?

Quick Start

You're just two CLI commands away from starting your sissi project – this is so exciting!

Installation

First you need to globally install sissi:

npm install -g sissi

Create a new project

To create a new project enter:

sissi new

and answer my questions to help me set it up. I will create all the required files for you, so after this you’re good to go!

Work on your site

While working on your site all you need is:

sissi dev

This command will run your new project on localhost:3000 and the CMS on localhost:3010.

Publish the static site

After you're done developing and setting up your server, enter:

sissi start

on your server. I will then build the static site and start the CMS.

Recommended First Steps

After the Quick Start you will have everything you need to start developing and you know best how to go about it! There are just a few things I’d recommend to do right away so you won’t forget to change them later on:

  1. Change the secret and phrase in the config.json (can be any string, to learn more see: config.json)
  2. Enter your details in the package.json
  3. Clean up the /public folder – remove the images, replace the favicon and customise the font in the index.html

Oh, and have fun! I’ll allow it. ;)

Required Files

I try to be as flexible as possible but there are a few things that I really can’t do without:

  1. config.json
  2. structure.json
  3. content.json
  4. Entry Component

I will create all these files for you but you will have to make some changes!

The most important ones are summed up above under Recommended First Steps so you can skip the following explanations and examples and revisit them later, if you’re itching to get started.

1. config.json

I need a config.json to make sure only authorised people can access the CMS and edit contents. During setup I will already fill in the given username and password (don't use the defaults!) but please make sure to also change the secret and phrase required by JWT (Json Web Token). This is a potential security risk!

The secret is JWT standard, the phrase is used to create a user token without hinting to the username. Both need to be strings and neither you nor your users will have to remember them.

Here’s what the file should look like:

{
  "JWT": {
    "secret": "yourSecret"
  },
  "users": [
    {
      "username": "yourUsername",
      "password": "yourPassword",
      "phrase": "yourPhrase"
    }
  ]
}

2. structure.json

Without a structure.json the CMS will not run. This is because the structure.json tells me how your website is structured and which items and fields to display to the person editing the website contents. Your file should contain the following five segments:

This is your playground and the heart and soul of every sissi project!

settings

settings is where you define project basics, i.e. the project name and the desired language for the CMS. Here’s an example:

  "settings": {
    "projectName": "yourProjectName",
    "language": "en"
  }
Key Type Default Required Notes
projectName string
language string en supported: en, de

I look forward to learning more languages in the future! If you'd like to teach me one, please see Contributions.

fields

fields is a list of all the fields you want to expose to the website editor. They make up the forms displayed in the CMS and can be grouped and reused. Here are a few examples:

"fields": {
  "image": {
    "label": "Image",
    "type": "image"
  },
  "title": {
    "label": "Title",
    "placeholder": "Your title",
    "type": "string"
  },
  "content": {
    "label": "Contents",
    "placeholder": "Please add your content using markdown",
    "type": "markdown"
  },
  "gallery": {
    "label": "Gallery",
    "type": "list",
    "itemLabel": "Photo",
    "fields": ["image", "description"],
    "maxItems": 9,
    "minItems": 3
  }
}

These fields are the puzzle pieces that make up all the editable contents of your website – and are used in the following three segments of the structure.json: global, pages and sections.

Note that the last field with the list type is actually a group of fields. These can be useful for displaying and editing lists with complex items – in this example a gallery where each photo comes with a description.

Key Type Default Required Notes
label string yes
type string yes supported: string, text, markdown, image, date, choice, list
placeholder string supported for types: string, text, markdown
options object[] for type choice option format: { key: string, label: string }
itemLabel string for type list description for each item in the list
fields string[] for type list the fields for each item
maxItems number for type list
minItems number for type list

One important limitation at this point is that you cannot use fields of type markdown in lists. I know this is something I need to learn, though, so if you want to help me – please check out Contributions!

global

global is the ideal place to store some general website data – such as a company name, logo, background image, or meta title. You simply define this by adding the desired fields. The number of pages for your project are also defined here. Sometimes it’s as simple as that:

"global": {
  "fields": ["title"],
  "maxItems": 6,
  "minItems": 4
}

If you want to set a fixed number of pages just enter the same number as minimum and maximum. The CMS will then prevent users from adding or deleting pages.

If you want to create a single page website just enter 1 for both minPages and maxPages.

Key Type Default Required Notes
fields string[] yes has to correspond with the defined fields
maxItems number yes
minItems number yes

pages

pages is a collection of the different page types you want to use on your website.

For single page sites you can skip this part because they don’t have pages and therefore no page types. (Actually, you need to skip this part or I will be confused and mess up your CMS. Sorry!)

For websites with more than one page I strongly recommend to add a page with type standard as fallback. Apart from that you’re free to create as many types as you like! Here are two examples:

"pages": {
  "standard": {
    "label": "Standard page",
    "fields": ["path", "title"],
    "maxItems": 4,
    "minItems": 1
  },
  "gallery": {
    "label": "Gallery page",
    "fields": ["path", "title", "description"],
    "maxItems": 24,
    "minItems": 4,
    "allowedItems": ["image"],
    "isProtected": true
  }
}
Key Type Default Required Notes
label string yes
fields string[] yes has to include a path field
maxItems number yes
minItems number yes
allowedItems string[] ['standard'] has to correspond with the defined sections
isProtected boolean false protected pages cannot be added or deleted in the CMS

Important note: Each page needs to have a path field! I use these paths to create and link the different pages of your website. Also, make sure the path for your landing page is an empty string – otherwise nothing will be displayed on your-website.org and I won't be able to turn it static.

sections

sections work pretty much like pages and are also made up of the fields you defined earlier. Again, I urge you to create a standard section type. Here’s how this might look like:

"sections": {
  "standard": {
    "label": "Standard section",
    "fields": ["title", "content"]
  },
  "photos": {
    "label": "Photos section",
    "fields": ["title", "description", "gallery"]
  }
}
Key Type Default Required Notes
label string yes
fields string[] yes has to correspond with the defined fields

3. content.json

The content.json holds – surprise! – all the contents of your website. I will use it to:

  1. build the static website
  2. fill the form fields in the CMS

Whenever you start the CMS (with sissi dev or sissi start) or when visiting/reloading the running CMS I will go looking for the content.json. If you have made changes to the structure.json I will migrate your content – and create a content.json.backup to make sure none of your data is lost in the process.

If there is none I will create a new (and basically empty) content.json from the given structure.json.

This all happens automatically so you don’t need to concern yourself with the exact composition of the file – it's basically the structure filled with data!

Just note that your project will not run without this file so if you delete it you need to start or visit the CMS to create a new one.

4. Entry Component

I will connect your content.json to your React app via the render() function in your index.js. This function will map through your pages and return the entry component enhanced with content props for each page. It's all set up for you – so no worries!

I already set up a Page.js for you – this is how I usually roll and you can just go from there if you like.

Feel free to put things like header and footer in the Page component. This might seem counterintuitive at first because it means your header and footer will be rendered on every single page and not just once in your App component (which you might usually prefer). But remember, we will turn all this into a static site so the outcome is exactly the same!

However, if you want to use an App (or any other) component as entry point you’re free to do so. Just make sure to pass it to the render() function in the index.js file.

Your entry component will receive the following props:

Key Type Notes
content object the full content object
global object the global content
page object the current page
pages object[] all pages
path string the path of the current page
sections object[] the sections of the current page

Working With Routes

Meet sissi-guides, my friend and helper! In order to link your internal routes and make sure that I include all your routes in the static version of your site you have to use the SissiLink component.

SissiLink is a wrapper for the ReactRouter Link component and supports all its main features. To make it work simply import it from sissi-guides and use it in your jsx. The only thing you have to do is include a to attribute pointing to the desired route:

import { SissiLink } from 'sissi-guides';

export default () => (
  <SissiLink to='/about'>
    About me
  </SissiLink>
);

This will render a link just like this:

<a href="/about" data-type="sissi-internal">About me</a>

Note the data-type="sissi-internal" part? That’s how sissi-snaps will know which sites to include in the static version of your app, so this is essential!

Server Setup

Here’s where I need to take a step back – I’m still learning about setting up a server on my own, so I can’t do this for you yet. But I can point you in the right direction with a couple of hints!

When you’re ready to make your project public you need a Node.js server where you install sissi as a global dependency (npm i -g sissi, remember?).

Then run sissi start to prepare both your sites. I say both, because you’ll have:

  1. your static website in the build folder
  2. your CMS running on port 3010.

This part is my job. Your job is to point one domain to the folder and another to the port so the static site and CMS can both be visited by the public.

I recommend configuring Nginx as a reverse proxy, so that it might serve the static website on your-website.org and the CMS on admin.your-website.org. Here’s a good tutorial to get you started.

If you plan on serving multiple websites from the same server you might want to configure the CMS port instead of using the defaults. You can do that by creating a .sissi file (I will do that for you if you started your project with sissi new). This file might look like this:

{
  "buildDir": "build",
  "tmpDir": "tmp",
  "cmsPort": 3010,
  "devPort": 3000
}

None of these options is required, but might come in handy when you know me a bit better.

Contributions

Hey, again. I’m so glad you’ve made it here! Because I could really use your help.

I’m still a child and have yet to grow and much to learn, so please be patient. If you could kindly point out how I can improve or if you even want to teach me something new I’d be forever grateful!

I am working on writing full contribution guidelines and hope you'll check back soon for more. Until then – don't be shy! All feedback and ideas are appreciated and I am convinced that everyone can teach me something, be it a code newbie or pro.

My folks

So, now that we’ve met and I’ve told you so much about me please let me introduce you to my lovely creators. Head over to A square to say hi and see what else they do when they’re not busy tending to me!

See you around.

Yours, sissi

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