Webgen Page Format

Webgen Page Format

The Webgen Page Format is a custom format designed primarily for page and template paths. However, due to its flexibility it is now used for all custom webgen paths (e.g. feed paths).

It consists of an optional meta information block at the beginning, followed by one or more blocks of data; thus it is very simple and easy to use.

This type of file structure was used by webgen since 2004 and many other static website generators, like Jekyll or nanoc, now use the same or a similar file format for content files.


The following examples shows all possible usages, a detailed syntax description can be found below.

  • Simplest version with just one block:

    Here is a block!
  • Example with two content blocks:

    This is one block of the file
    This is another block.
  • Example with a meta information block and multiple content blocks:

    title: This is the page title.
    in_menu: true
      content: {pipeline: kramdown}
      sidebar: {pipeline: erb,kramdown}
    First block with a default name of 'content'. The 'pipeline'
    option for this block is set in the meta information block.
    --- sidebar -----------------------------------------------
    This block is named sidebar.
    --- pipeline:tags,kramdown
    The third block and therefore named 'block3' by default.
    The option 'pipeline' is set on the block starting line
    and can later be accessed like the options of other blocks
    through the 'blocks' meta information key.

Meta Information Block


The meta information block is used for providing meta information about the content. When creating a page path, it is possible, for example, to specify the  title meta information for the page next to the content and keep them together.


Each path in Webgen Page Format can have zero or one meta information blocks. Note that this block can only be at the beginning of the content! To differentiate the meta information block from a content block, the content has to start with three dashes:

title: The title set by Meta info
This is the content of the file

The above defines a meta information block and a content block because the content starts with three dashes.

The meta information block has to be in YAML format and needs to contain key-value pairs of meta information. YAML is a simple markup language designed for ease of use and although you define structured data with it, it feels like just writing a plain text document.

Content Blocks


A content block is used to provide content. Each path in Webgen Page Format needs to have at least one content block which may be empty. However, it can have as many content blocks as necessary. This functionality can be used, for example, to provide the main content of an HTML page in one block and the sidebar content in another one.

Each content block needs to have a name which uniquely identifies it and is used to access it later. If no names are explicitly specified, the first block is called “content”, the second one “block2”, the third one “block3” and so on.

Additionally, options for a block can also be set, either in the meta information block or directly on the line which starts a block. For example, one option that is frequently set and recognized by webgen for page and template paths is the pipeline option.

When specifying key-value options in the meta information block, these options are specified under a key that is the name of the block inside the key  blocks. Options specified on a block starting line are added to this key after the the content has been parsed.


There are four ways to start a content block:

  • When the content does not begin with a line containing only three dashes, the first block is a content block with a default name.

    This is the content of the first block which is
    named 'content' by default.
  • A line containing only three dashes (not at the beginning of the content) starts a block with a default name.

    This is the first block.
    This is the second block, named 'block2' by default.
  • A line starting with three dashes, followed by one or more spaces/tabs, the name of the block and optionally followed by one or more spaces/tabs and one or more dashes starts a block with the given name.

    --- my_block
    This block is named 'my_block'.
    ---    other   --------------------
    This is the 'other' block.
  • A line starting with three dashes, followed by one or more spaces/tabs, followed by key-value pairs of options where the key is separated from the value by a colon and the pairs are separated from each other by one ore more spaces/tabs, and optionally followed by one or more spaces/tabs and one or more dashes starts a block with the given options.

    The value of an option is parsed with YAML. For example, when specifying use_something:true the value true is automatically converted from the string true to the boolean true.

    The special key name can be used for naming the block.

    --- name:my_block
    This block is named 'my_block'.
    --- name:other pipeline: key:value  --------------------
    This is the 'other' block, where the pipeline key
    is set to a null value and the key 'key' to 'value'.

If a block contains a line that could be a block starting line but a new block should not be started, this line needs to be escaped with a backslash character, like this:

Block 1
still Block 1
\--- name:block2
still Block 1
NOW we are in Block 2