Solene Rapenne 52bd9a828b Cleaner code using structure for storing articles metadata
Posts are declared individually with a function instead of modifying a global variable, this is much cleaner.
Gopher index format and index file name can be customized in the config file, no need to tweak generator.lisp anymore
Tell multimarkdown to export to html, specifying the output format is now mandatory in multimarkdown
Examples of the future way to handle multiple markup language by declaring converters
2017-12-13 12:08:57 +01:00

9.7 KiB



cl-yag is a lightweight, static site generator that produces gopher sites as well as html websites. The name 'cl-yag' stands for 'Common Lisp - Yet Another website Generator'. It runs without needing Quicklisp (Common LISP library manager).


I am using cl-yag to create and maintain my websites in the world-wide-web (visit: [Solene's percent] ( as well as [in gopher-space] (gopher://


To use cl-yag you'll need:

  1. A Common Lisp Interpreter
  2. A Markdown-to-HTML Converter


Go into your project's directory and type make. You'll find your new website/gopher page in output/.
If you want to get rid of everything in your output/ subdirectories, type make clean.
For further commands: read the Makefile.
Read in the follwing section where to find it.

Overview: cl-yag's File Hierarchy

After cloning the repository, your project's directory should contain at least the following files and folders:

|-- Makefile
|-- data/
|   |--
|   |--
|   `-- articles.lisp
|-- generator.lisp
|-- output/
|   |-- gopher/
|   `-- html/
|-- static/
|   |-- css/style.css
|   `-- img/
`-- templates/
	|-- article.tpl
	|-- gopher_head.tpl
	|-- layout.tpl
	|-- one-tag.tpl
	|-- rss-item.tpl
	`-- rss.tpl
  • Makefile
    • This file exists to simplifiy the recurring execution of frequently used commands.
  • generator.lisp
    • This is cl-yag's core library.
  • static/
    • This directory holds content, that needs to be published without being changed (e.g. stylesheets, js-scripts).
    • If you come from 'non-static CMS'-Country: static/ holds, what you would put in your assets/ directory.
  • templates/
    • The templates in this directory provide the structural skeleton(s) of the webpages and feeds you want to create.
  • output/
    • cl-yag puts in this directory everything ready to get deployed.
    • Because cl-yag generates not only HTML, but gopher-compliant pages as well, output/ holds two subdirectories.
      • gopher/ contains the website for gopher,
      • html/ contains the website in HTML.

And there is the data/ directory, which is important enough to get a subsubsection of its own.

The data/ Directory

This directory is crucial for the usage of cl-yag.

data/ contains

  • the articles.lisp configuration file, which defines important metadata for posts and pages.
  • It also holds ${id}.md files, which are holding your posts' (or pages') content. You can use markdown to write them.

For more information: Read section 'Configuration'.


cl-yag's main configuration file is data/articles.lisp.
In order to have a running implementation of cl-yag, you have to set most of the values in this file.

data/articles.lisp has two parts:

  1. A variable called config. Its values define your webpage.
  2. "posts" declaration with their metadata

Values are assigned by placing a string (e.g. "foo") or a boolean (i.e. t or nil) behind a keyword (e.g. :title).

The config Variable

The config variable is used to assign the following values:

  • :webmaster
    • The name of the default(!) author.
    • :webmaster gets used, if :author is omitted. (See below: 'The articles variable'.)
  • :title
    • The title of the webpage
  • :description
    • This text is used in the description field of the atom/rss feed.
  • :url
    • This needs to be the full(!) URL of your website, including(!) a final slash.
    • MIND: If the url contains a tilde (~), it needs to get duplicated.
    • Example: https://mydomain/~~user/
  • :rss-item-number
    • This holds the number of latest(!) RSS items you want to get published.
  • html
    • t to export html website. Set nil to disable.
  • gopher
    • t to export gopher website. Set nil to disable.
  • gopher-path
    • This is the full path of the directory to access your gopher hole.
  • gopher-server
    • Hostname of the gopher server. It needs to be included in each link.
  • gopher-port
    • tcp port of the gopher server. 70 is the default port. It needs to be included in each link.
  • gopher-format
    • format of the gopher server. default is the geomyidae format, gophernicus format is commented.
  • gopher-index
    • name of the gopher menu file. defaut is index.gph for geomyidae, gophermap file is commented.

Posts declarations

Each post is declared with its metadata using the function "post". So you need to add a new line for each of your posts.

Of the following keywords, only :author and :short can be omitted.

  • :author
    • The :author field is used to display the article's author.
    • If you omit it, the generator will take the name from the :webmaster field of the config variable.
  • :id
    • The :id field holds the filename of your post/page.
    • Example: :id "2" will load file data/ Use text instead of numbers, if you want to.
    • (See section: 'The data/ Directory'.)
  • :tag
    • :tag field is used to create a "view" containing all articles of the same tag.
    • MIND: Whitespaces are used to separate tags and are not allowed in(!) tags.
  • :tiny
    • The :tiny field's value is used for displaying a really short description of the posts content on your homepage.
    • If :tiny doesn't get a value, the full article gets displayed.
    • Hint: Use :tiny "Read the full article for more information.", if you don't want to display the full text of an article on your index site.
  • :title
    • The :title field's value sets your post's title, its first headline, as well as its entry on the index.html.

Howto Create A New Post

Edit data/articles.lisp and add a new list to the articles variable:

(list :title "How do I use cl-yag" 
	  :id "2"
	  :date "29 April 2016" 
	  :author "Solène"
	  :tiny "Read more about how I use cl-yag." 
	  :tag "example help code")

Then write a corresponding data/ file, using markdown.

Howto Publish A Post

I prepared a Makefile to facilitate the process of generating and publishing your static sites. All you need to do in order to publish is to go into your cl-yag directory and type make.

The make command creates html and gopher files in the defined location. The default is the output/ directory, but you can use a symbolic link pointing to some other directory as well.

Howto Add A New Page

You may want to have some dedicated pages besides the index or a post. To create one, edit the generate-site function in cl-yag's generator.lisp and add a function call, like this:

(generate "somepage.html" (load-file "data/mypage.html"))

This will produce output/html/somepage.html.

Further Customization

Howto Use Another Common Lisp Interpreter

cl-yags default Lisp interpreter is sbcl. If you want to use a different interpreter you need to set the variable LISP to the name of your binary, when calling make:

make LISP=ecl

Using git Hooks For Publishing

You may customize your publishing-process further, e.g. by using a git hook to call the make program after each change in the repo so your website gets updated automatically.


Here is an example code, if you want to include another page in the template:

  1. Create templates/panel.tpl containing the html you want to include.

  2. Add a replacement-string in the target file, where the replacement should occur.
    In this case, we choose %%Panel%% for a string, and, because we want the panel to be displayed on each page, we add this string to templates/layout.tpl.

  3. Modify the function generate-layout in cl-yag's generator.lisp accordingly.
    This is done by adding the following template function call:

     (template "%%Panel%%" (load-file "templates/panel.tpl"))

Another valid approach is to writer your html directly into templates/layout.tpl.

Known Limitations

Use ~~ To Create ~

cl-yag crashes if you use a single "~" character inside templates/articles.lisp, because Common Lisp employs the tilde as a prefix to indicate format specifiers in format strings.

In order to use a literal ~ -- e.g. for creating a :title or :url reference -- you have to escape the tilde by duplicating it: ~~. (See :url in section 'Configuration').

Posting Without Tagging

cl-yag allows posts without tags, but, using the default templates/layout.tpl, you'll get a line below your title that displays: "Tags: ".

(Note: If you are looking for a way to contribute this may be a task for you.)

A Note On Themes

Although cl-yag may ship with a minimalistic template, cl-yag focuses on generating html- and gopher-compliant structural markup - not themed layouts.

If you want some deeply refined, cross-browser compatible, responsive, webscale style sheets, you need to create them yourself. However, cl-yag will work nicely with them and if you want to make your style sheets a part of cl-yag you're very welcome to contact me.

Hacking cl-yag

I tried to make cl-yag easy to extend.
If you want to contribute, feel free to contact me and/or to send in a patch.

  • If you are looking for a way to contribute:
    • You could find a way to "sanitize" cl-yag's behaviour regarding the tilde (see: above);
    • Also see: 'Note' in 'Posting Without Tagging';
    • Also see: 'A Note On Themes'.