An introduction to commandbox-ssg

How to get started with commandbox-ssg cfml commandbox

December 14, 2023 / Robert Zehnder


This module, a static site generator for CommandBox, is a personal favorite among the modules I've had the pleasure of working on. This guide aims to provide an overview of installing, using, and configuring CommandBox-SSG for your web projects.

Installation Guide

Getting started with CommandBox-SSG is straightforward. Simply execute the following command:

box install commandbox-ssg

This command seamlessly installs the necessary components, setting the stage for your project development.

Usage Instructions

Post-installation, CommandBox-SSG enriches your toolbox with several new commands:

  • ssg init: Initializes a basic site in the current folder.
  • ssg build: Builds the static site to the output folder.
  • ssg watch: Monitors the current folder, automatically building the site upon detecting changes.

Project Scaffolding

To scaffold your first project, ensure box is operational. Then execute:

❯ mkdir test-project --cd
❯ ssg init
❯ ssg build
❯ ssg watch

This sequence establishes a basic blog site by downloading the ssg-skeleton from GitHub. The ssg build command then writes files to the _site/ output folder, crucial for the initial setup. Finally, ssg watch ensures continuous site updates during development.

This also configures the local http server and rewrites required to serve the static content. Issuing server start from your project directory will allow you to browse your content locally.

Configuring Your Site

The ssg-config.json file is your starting point for site customization. It allows you to define several critical aspects:

  • Title: Sets the browser title bar text.
  • Description: Provides a brief site summary, used in meta headers.
  • Author: Names the website's author.
  • URL: Specifies the site's URL.
  • OutputDir: Determines the sub-folder for static content.
  • Passthru: Lists files/directories copied to outputDir with each build.

Sample configuration:

	"meta": {
		"title": "commandbox-ssg",
		"description": "commandbox static site generator",
		"author": "ssg",
		"url": ""
	"outputDir": "_site",
	"ignore": [
	"passthru": ["/assets"]

Crafting Your First Blog Pages

Adding new pages is as simple as creating a CFML or Markdown template in your project directory. Each template requires metadata, also known as front matter, which varies slightly between Markdown and CFML templates.

Markdown example:

layout: main
type: post
slug: marvel-movies-in-order
title: Marvel Movies in Chronological Order
author: Jasper
description: A listing of all the Marvel movies in timeline order
- misc
- movies
published: true
date: 2020-05-18

CFML example:

layout: none
permalink: /sitemap.xml
excludeFromCollections: true

The front matter details layout, type, slug, title, author, description, tags, image, published status, publish date, permalink, and exclusion from collections.

Understanding the Collections Scope

commandbox-ssg is influenced by other static site generators, notably 11ty. It features a collections scope that categorizes pages by type and tags, facilitating easy navigation and linking throughout your site.


The revitalization of commandbox-ssg from GitHub has been a rewarding journey. This tool not only powers this site but continues to evolve, with a focus on user-friendliness and troubleshooting. Feedback and contributions to its development are highly encouraged.