Part 0: Overview

Complexity is a refreshingly simple static site generator, for those who like to work in HTML. It allows you to quickly see how your changes affect your site.

This quick tutorial will show you how to run this generator on your own using the most basic structure possible. Just type the given instructions into your terminal.

If you have any specific questions you may find help in the documentation: http://complexity.readthedocs.org/en/latest/

Or on the Github page: https://github.com/audreyr/complexity

This is the directory structure for a minimal Complexity site:

├── project/       <--------- input
│   ├── assets/
│   │   ├── css/
│   │   ├── js/
│   │   └── img/
│   │
│   └── templates/
│       ├── base.html
│       ├── index.html
│       └── about.html
└── www/          <---------- output
    ├── index.html
    ├── about/
    │   └── index.html
    ├── css/
    ├── js/
    └── img/

Part 1: Setup

First, grab a copy of the example Complexity site:

git clone https://github.com/audreyr/complexity-example.git

Open everything in a text editor. You should see a main project/ directory with subfolders for your work:

  • Study the template files in templates/. We’ll go over them shortly.
  • Notice the assets/ directory. That is where you put your static files.
  • Creating additional directories in assets/ (e.g. ico/) is fine; they’ll get copied over to www/ without modification.

At the same level as project/, a www/ directory will be auto-generated. It will contain your final rendered templates and optimized static assets.

When you’re done, you should have a project structure like that in https://github.com/audreyr/complexity-example.

Part 2: What’s in a Complexity Site?

Here’s what a very simple Complexity site looks like:


<!DOCTYPE html>
    <title>{% block title %}{% endblock %} - Built with Complexity</title>
    <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0">
    <!-- Bootstrap -->
    <link href="/css/bootstrap.min.css" rel="stylesheet" media="screen">
    <div class="container">
        <div class="navbar">
            <div class="navbar-inner">
                <a class="brand" href="#">Complexity</a>
                <ul class="nav">
                    <li><a href="/">Home</a></li>
                    <li><a href="/about/">About</a></li>

        {% block content %}
        {% endblock %}

<script src="http://code.jquery.com/jquery.js"></script>
<script src="/js/bootstrap.min.js"></script>


{% extends "base.html" %}

{% block title %}Home{% endblock %}

{% block content %}
<div class="row">
    <div class="span12">
        <p>This is the Home page of your website.</p>
{% endblock %}


{% extends "base.html" %}

{% block title %}About{% endblock %}

{% block content %}
<div class="row">
    <div class="span12">
        <p>This is the About page of your website.</p>
{% endblock %}

Notice how index.html and about.html both share a common parent template, base.html.

Part 3: Generate the Site and Serve It Locally

Run the complexity command, passing it input and output directories:

$ complexity project/

This results in the following:

  • A www/ directory gets created, containing your generated static HTML site.

  • Templates are rendered and output to files smartly:

    • Any templates starting with “base” are assumed to be parent templates and not rendered on their own (e.g. base.html, base_section.html)
    • Templates named index.html are output to the same corresponding locations in www/.
    • Other templates are expanded in order to hide the ”.html” extension. For example, about.html is expanded to about/index.html.
  • A lightweight server starts up locally, serving your site so that you can see how it looks and check that everything works.

Open a web browser to You should see your newly generated site!

In an upcoming release, the following will also occur during Complexity’s generation process:

  • CSS will be minified and concatenated.
  • SCSS and/or LESS will compiled to CSS, then minified and concatenated.
  • JS will be minified, concatenated, and obfuscated.

Development is happening at a rapid pace, so stay tuned. To keep updated, watch and star https://github.com/audreyr/complexity on GitHub.

Part 4: Upload the Site to Amazon S3

For site deployment we’ll use the “alotofeffort” tool. It is designed for use with Complexity, but it works with non-Complexity sites just as well.

Install it:

$ pip install alotofeffort

Save the following in ~/.boto:

aws_access_key_id = ...
aws_secret_access_key = ...

Replace ... with your AWS access credentials, of course.

Then deploy the www/ directory to any S3 bucket that you own:

$ alotofeffort www/ your-s3-bucketname

Your site is now live! Go to the URL that alotofeffort prints out after it finishes uploading.

Point your domain name at that URL, and you’ll be done!