Publish your site

Site generation

Once Pelican is installed and you have some content (e.g., in Markdown or reST format), you can convert your content into HTML via the pelican command, specifying the path to your content and (optionally) the path to your settings file:

pelican /path/to/your/content/ [-s path/to/your/]

The above command will generate your site and save it in the output/ folder, using the default theme to produce a simple site. The default theme consists of very simple HTML without styling and is provided so folks may use it as a basis for creating their own themes.

You can also tell Pelican to watch for your modifications, instead of manually re-running it every time you want to see your changes. To enable this, run the pelican command with the -r or --autoreload option.

Pelican has other command-line switches available. Have a look at the help to see all the options you can use:

pelican --help

Viewing the generated files

The files generated by Pelican are static files, so you don’t actually need anything special to view them. You can use your browser to open the generated HTML files directly:

firefox output/index.html

Because the above method may have trouble locating your CSS and other linked assets, running a simple web server using Python will often provide a more reliable previewing experience.

For Python 2, run:

cd output
python -m SimpleHTTPServer

For Python 3, run:

cd output
python -m http.server

Once the basic server has been started, you can preview your site at http://localhost:8000/


After you have generated your site, previewed it in your local development environment, and are ready to deploy it to production, you might first re-generate your site with any production-specific settings (e.g., analytics feeds, etc.) that you may have defined:

pelican content -s

The steps for deploying your site will depend on where it will be hosted. If you have SSH access to a server running Nginx or Apache, you might use the rsync tool to transmit your site files:

rsync --avc --delete output/

There are many other deployment options, some of which can be configured when first setting up your site via the pelican-quickstart command. See the Tips page for detail on publishing via GitHub Pages.


While the pelican command is the canonical way to generate your site, automation tools can be used to streamline the generation and publication flow. One of the questions asked during the pelican-quickstart process pertains to whether you want to automate site generation and publication. If you answered “yes” to that question, a and Makefile will be generated in the root of your project. These files, pre-populated with certain information gleaned from other answers provided during the pelican-quickstart process, are meant as a starting point and should be customized to fit your particular needs and usage patterns. If you find one or both of these automation tools to be of limited utility, these files can deleted at any time and will not affect usage of the canonical pelican command.

Following are automation tools that “wrap” the pelican command and can simplify the process of generating, previewing, and uploading your site.


The advantage of Fabric is that it is written in Python and thus can be used in a wide range of environments. The downside is that it must be installed separately. Use the following command to install Fabric, prefixing with sudo if your environment requires it:

pip install Fabric

Take a moment to open the file that was generated in your project root. You will see a number of commands, any one of which can be renamed, removed, and/or customized to your liking. Using the out-of-the-box configuration, you can generate your site via:

fab build

If you’d prefer to have Pelican automatically regenerate your site every time a change is detected (which is handy when testing locally), use the following command instead:

fab regenerate

To serve the generated site so it can be previewed in your browser at http://localhost:8000/:

fab serve

If during the pelican-quickstart process you answered “yes” when asked whether you want to upload your site via SSH, you can use the following command to publish your site via rsync over SSH:

fab publish

These are just a few of the commands available by default, so feel free to explore and see what other commands are available. More importantly, don’t hesitate to customize to suit your specific needs and preferences.


A Makefile is also automatically created for you when you say “yes” to the relevant question during the pelican-quickstart process. The advantage of this method is that the make command is built into most POSIX systems and thus doesn’t require installing anything else in order to use it. The downside is that non-POSIX systems (e.g., Windows) do not include make, and installing it on those systems can be a non-trivial task.

If you want to use make to generate your site, run:

make html

If you’d prefer to have Pelican automatically regenerate your site every time a change is detected (which is handy when testing locally), use the following command instead:

make regenerate

To serve the generated site so it can be previewed in your browser at http://localhost:8000/:

make serve

Normally you would need to run make regenerate and make serve in two separate terminal sessions, but you can run both at once via:

make devserver

The above command will simultaneously run Pelican in regeneration mode as well as serve the output at http://localhost:8000. Once you are done testing your changes, you should stop the development server via:

./ stop

When you’re ready to publish your site, you can upload it via the method(s) you chose during the pelican-quickstart questionnaire. For this example, we’ll use rsync over ssh:

make rsync_upload

That’s it! Your site should now be live.

(The default Makefile and scripts use the python and pelican executables to complete its tasks. If you want to use different executables, such as python3, you can set the PY and PELICAN environment variables, respectively, to override the default executable names.)