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Show HN: HardyPress – Use WordPress as a static site generator (hardypress.com)
86 points by zener79 8 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 45 comments



I build a lot of Wordpress sites of all types of complexity, including sites that could benefit from being static. My main reasons for likely not using your service would be:

You become my new hosting company and that worries me. But more importantly, these 3 selling points "Support for Contact Forms 7", "Instant search out of the box", "Keep using plugins". I now have to vet plugins myself and guess if they are going to break in your system. It also makes me think about what I can or can't do when building themes myself which I usually don't have to do. The part about you injecting code into the site to add your own instant search is also worrying.

My main takeaway would be that your service is appropriate for novice users and maybe I'm not the target audience. But novice users might not know what static websites are or the differences between them and non-static sites and so I would market the service differently. Instead of focusing on technical features I would just sell it as a hosted Wordpress service with extra bells and whistles that make your sites faster than a normal host. The focus being fast, secure, ease of use, low maintenance etc and renegating the technical aspects about it being headless, generating static pages, WP running on a separate domain and so on to just a technical explanation page for users that are interested.

I hope I haven't dissuaded you, Good luck!


Many thanks for your thoughts :-)

Actually yes, we are a new hosting company, but the live site is hosted an a AWS-S3 bucket with a CDN in front of it, so, even if you don't trust us, I could feel quite safe with it.

In my personal experience, I used to have a web agency with dozens of WordPress installation to keep alive, mostly of them where simple “brochure” sites. I used auto-update mechanisms and caching layers provided by the hosting service, but it happened more than once to have security/performance/technical problems and headaches.

Only after I put the static copy of these sites online I started sleeping well at night. There was no way that things could go wrong.

Of course it is easier if you build them with the "static solution" in mind. Anyway you will find a compatibility list of the plugin you are using on the site dashboard once your site is on HardyPress.


I too have self-hosted dozens of Wordpress sites over the years, including reverse proxy servers to terminate SSL and cache pages, and CDNs to mitigate DDOS and reduce roundtrip times.

I don't bother anymore. I think your biggest competition today isn't self-hosted Wordpress sites, it's Wordpress.com, WP Engine, Pantheon, GoDaddy Managed Wordpress, etc.

I don't want to seem negative, but I'm having a hard time seeing why I would prefer your system to those. From my perspective the static site generation + services adds complexity, it doesn't remove it. And I'd still have to maintain the Wordpress instance since it provides the backend.

If Wordpress is the backend, then a static copy, to me, just seems like one particular implementation of a caching strategy. I would not expect S3 to serve HTML pages any faster than Varnish, for instance.


Actually there are a couple of things that I'd like to clarify:

1) There is no WordPress backend to maintain as it doesn't exists unless you turn it on in a temporary/hidden/virtual environment to make your changes. For the rest of the time it simply doesn't exists. No PHP, no MySql, nothing that can break. You don't even need to keep your installation updated if you don't want to.

2) The pages are not served from an S3 bucket but from a CDN with 20 edge server around the world. The bucket is only a "source of true" where the CDN loads the files when the "cache" is invalidated. This reduce the TTFB (Time to first byte) up to 10x from any location respect a traditional hosting service.


I think you've identified the right problems--security, pain of maintenance, performance. I don't think you're solving in them in the best way, but don't let that stop you! Hope your business is successful.


Why can't you export the static site and let me host it myself?


There are already some plugins that "staticize" your website, but

1) you still need to have and maintain secure the WordPress Installation somewhere. With HardyPress WP can be paused and restored when needed with a click.

2) you have to download the static version and upload it somewhere else manually (your client certainly can't do it on their own). HardyPress does it with a click.

3) contact forms and search will stop working. With HardyPress, if you use CF7, everything will work seemlessy.

To solve the problems above HaryPress needs to hosts your WP installation.


Honestly think your business model would be improved by ditching the hosting, and have the static output just get git-synced, and working to incorporate the forms and such with something like Netlify which should support that, and Netlify has great workflows and integrations that you should be able to work with; or at least add the option of just pushing the static to Git/Netlify. Most of the value in what you are offering here is just in the headless (or WP front-end as a service shall we say) Wordpress component. I think a significant potential user base would much rather plunk down $5/mo to use the nice WP FE you've created, in conjunction with some type of Git/Netlify (or similar) integration, vs being locked in to having to host with you. Just my two cents. Believe others have weighed in similarly as well.


I see your point, but I also think that most of the value in what we are offering here is the ability to turn WordPress on/off on demand, so you can forget about it after the changes.

How could this be achieve without hosting files and DB?


Sure, that's the front-end and the service you are providing, just the ability to use WP. Sure it's great that it's not "on" unless I'm editing or using it, but why not add an option to build/output the static to a user's Git account? I understand that may not be the market you are going after, however I don't think it will lose you any of the customers who just want an WP/hosting easy-button; it will just add the customer who know's what they are doing a little bit, can work with Git, and wants to host it where they want. I think you can only win by adding this as an option/feature..


Ok, about this we will release soon a new feature where users will be able to deploy their static site on a custom ftp/sftp server. Adding a git repo as destination won't be a problem :-)


I build a lot of non-Wordpress sites and even create my own framework because Wordpress lacks modern web dev features like static site generation / headless CMS.

I found the HardyPress approach a godsend. Finally a really fast hosting without the caching overhead.

And with Wordpress moving to the Gutenberg editor ie. enabling component based design and development this new combo will be a game changer.

For most of us the Wordpress backend is good enough. If the design / dev process and hosting is brought to the latest standards then we will have a modern framework which already runs 30% of websites today.


Gatsbyjs (reactjs based static site generator) is a very good free alternative. It has a plugin which allows you to use WordPress as a headless CMS to create/update content and another plugin which allows to push your the WordPress content to Github Pages (Gitlab or other static site hosting services):

https://github.com/gatsbyjs/gatsby/tree/master/examples/usin...


Simply Static is an alternative for self-hosting: https://wordpress.org/plugins/simply-static/

I'm learning how to then put the static site on a CDN. Are there tools for that, or I would be using just FTP. Thanks.


+1 - I use this for my personal site - it's great.

The only thing I found is you can't have any orphaned pages (like hidden ones) from the homepage. As it scrapes down if there aren't any links to it it won't find it. Small problem, definitely cuts down on the work I need to do for my personal tool site though.


You could just put a CDN in front of WordPress and presto change-o your site is static.


Could I use a CDN plugin (I found yours in a comment) in the Wordpress development environment itself? (I won't be hosting Wordpress live in production, only the static pages.) Thanks!


This concept is very good. Kudos.

One of my scariest memories of getting hacked (back when I was a total greenhorn and cloud computing was rare) was hosting Wordpress blog on the same server as our main site. It got hacked bad. We had viagra links in all our files and it was a total nightmare to cleanup. Upon research I found out that there is an entire market of people trying to find WP hacks and sell it online. God knows how big it must be now.

Anyway, thankfully now you can just host your WP blog on an EC2/DO instance and eliminate all risks. But always keep your WP database and instance separate is what I learned from that.


Great Idea! I haven't tried it yet, but This is really awesome in concept.

Also, you may want to alleviate some people's concerns about using plugins. The first thing that comes to my mind, would all my existing plugins still work. You'd probably have to try it out and do a test.


Nice idea, I hope it succeeds! However I would never move my critical WP stuff to a new unknown hosting, thanks. If it was some sort of plugin or special setup I could "install" on my servers I would really pay a decent amount for it though, it would be ideal IMHO.


This looks exciting. As much as I dislike WordPress, it's here to stay and clients ask for it by name.

This sounds like a nice compromise for those that want a GUI to make content changes but also want the security and performance advantages of a static site.


It's a nice idea for novices, but there are WordPress plugins that can create static sites from WordPress installations.


Yes, there are some plugins that "staticize" your website, but

1) you still need to have and maintain secure the WordPress Installation somewhere. With HardyPress WP can be paused and restored when needed with a click.

2) you have to download the static version and upload it somewhere else manually (your client certainly can't do it on their own). HardyPress does it with a click.

3) contact forms and search will stop working. With HardyPress, if you use CF7, everything will work seemlessy.

To solve the problems above HaryPress needs to hosts your WP installation.


And pay you money :)


Yep, like for every hosting solution ;-)


Any that you recommend?


Congrats on the launch! Love the idea of speeding up WP sites via static pages. Do we need to transfer our domain to you as well or just the Wordpress installation?

Just posted to PH as well - https://www.producthunt.com/posts/hardypress


Many thanks Jason for your effort on posting it on ProductHunt.

We were thinking of postponing the launch on PH when the new version of the site is ready, but that's okay :-)

You don't need to transfer the domain to us (we are not registrar), you just need to set a CNAME when your site on HardyPress is production ready


I scratched my own itch and made a plugin that enables you to put your entire WordPress site behind a CDN and manages intelligently flushing the cache.

https://github.com/kingkool68/wordpress-cdn-integration


How safe is this in comparison to running WordPress in a container with all uploads go to S3 for example? WordPress provides ready to use Docker images which should be fairly easy to upgrade. Sure, it's not for the novice users...


There is huge differences between running a live WordPress site on a docker container (where you still have php, mysql, etc), and running it as a static site in a serverless environment.


Is anyone using it and can comment on stability and potential issues?


I'm using it since December and never had problems at all.

Moreover the support is just perfect. I needed a Multisite feature and they've added it in no time.

https://mothemes.baby


OK so I set up a test account an things are mostly fine, although there are still rough edges. For example, onece the static site is deployed and you click Login in the default theme, you get:

> error on line 12 at column 10: Opening and ending tag mismatch: meta line 0 and head

This is after two first minutes, so I guess there are still things to work on. In any case, for more advanced users your product is a great no-no, since the main advantage of WP is that it's FOSS - who would want to become your hostage? I see a lot of potential for an open source solution, the idea is really good.


> since the main advantage of WP is that it's FOSS

Maybe, maybe not anymore. Now the main advantage of WP is that it's ubiquitous/low barrier to entry and has (too) many plugins/themes/etc available.

Incidentally, that's also WP's main disadvantage because those things greatly increase it's attach surface.


What is the value of using this over a service like WP Engine (http://wpengine.com)?


Are comments integrated in this system?


You can use some external service like Disqus, Discourse or similar.


What about Wordpress.com/ Jetpack comments? Live commenting the Wordpress way would be wonderful


Could anyone make a list of free-alternatives? Tiresome seeing every little idea turning into a 5 USD a month SaaS-startup.


Free alternative: Host WP yourself? Use a different static site generator?

Come on, this clearly isn't yet-another-static-site generator for hackers but a commercial product for people who still use Wordpress, but not so foolish/desperate/cheap that they don't realise the security implications.


There are a couple of free plugins to make WP sites static, using various methods. So yes, use a plugin and you can get an HTML copy of your WP site with caveats that should make sense, and you can then host the html anywhere... there are 2-3 plugins that I saw, but I don't run a WP site so I can't comment on each.

This product looks like it'll do ops and stuff for you, so there may still be value if it just works.


Actually with those plugin you still have some drawback: first you still need to have and maintain secure the live WordPress installation somewhere, second you have to download the static version and upload it somewhere else, last but not least your contact forms and search will stop working.


Is it?

The market will make sure that those ideas which are valuable solutions to problems people have will survive (if priced correctly). This means that problem solvers are compensated for their work so they can keep iterating. I don't really understand what your objection could be!


5 USD is super cheap. My coffee costs more than that and they're providing you with actual value. Pretty sure there are costs involved in running the infrastructure, fixing bugs and handling support




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