Migrating from Pelican to Hugo

  • 29th Nov 2015
  • 9 min read
  • • 
  • Tags: 
  • blog

In this post I will discuss the steps I took to migrate my blog from Pelican to Hugo.


Original BlogNew Blog
Static site generatorPelicanHugo
HostingLinodeAmazon S3
Deployment StrategyManual using gitAutomated using Wercker
Source ControlbitbucketGitHub

Installing Hugo

I do all of my development on an Apple Macbook Pro so I used homebrew to install Hugo:

brew install hugo

Creating my project

Its up to you how you organize your project, but as I am a Go Language developer and Hugo is built using Go I have created a folder for this project here:


change directory to this and in terminal run (for the rest of this blog I will assume you are in this directory):

git init

This will create a git repository for your project.

Create Hugo Site

To create your new Hugo site in terminal run:

hugo new site $GOPATH/src/github.com/softinio/softinio.com

This will create the skeleton for your new Hugo site.

Choosing a theme

First I headed over to the themes showcase for hugo here: Hugo Themes. This has screenshots and links to demo sites for each theme.

I chose hyde-x for my blog.

Make a subdirectory called themes and change directory to it and clone the theme you have chosen there:

git clone https://github.com/zyro/hyde-x

Once this theme repo got cloned into my project I then removed its .git directory by changing directory into the themes root folder and removing it:

cd themes/hyde-x
rm -fr .git

Configuring your project and theme

In the root of your project there is a file called config.toml that you need to update to configure your site. You can look at my configuration to get an idea of the things you can set. For your theme specific settings of course look at the github repo for your theme’s readme for detailsi (e.g. for my chosen theme: hyde-x documentation).

Content Types, Archetypes and Front Matter

I have decided to have two content types:

  • post for my blog posts
  • page for my sites static pages (like my about me page).

When creating any kind of content using Hugo you must provide some meta data about it. This meta data is known as front matter.

For example my front matter for this post is:

categories = ["python", "golang"]
date = "2015-11-29T07:16:53-05:00"
description = "In this post I will discuss the steps I took to migrate my blog from Pelican to Hugo."
keywords = ["pelican",  "hugo",  "golang", "go", "python", "blog"]
slug = "migrating-from-pelican-to-hugo"
tags = ["pelican",  "hugo",  "golang", "go", "python", "blog"]
title = "Migrating from Pelican to Hugo"


You can get Hugo to automatically create the above front matter for you for each content type. These are called archetypes. If you look at the archetypes subdirectory of my project there are two archetypes default.md and page.md. Any content created that is of type page will have the contents of page.md added to its header. Any other content type will have the content of default.md added to its header.

Looking at the content of page.md we have:

title = ""
slug = ""
description = ""
menu = "main"
keywords = [""]
categories = [""]
tags = [""]

So this will be added to the top of every content of type page that I add. Of course I will have to edit this template for each content with that contents specific meta data.

The main difference between my two different content types is that the page.md content type has menu = "main" this tells hugo that this content is not a blog post and it should be added to the left column of my website below my name as a link.

Creating Content

To create content, from the project root you call:

hugo new <content type>/<name of new content md file>

So to create this page I did:

hugo new post/migrating-from-pelican-to-hugo.md

So to migrate my blog posts from pelican to hugo I used to above command to create a post with same file name as I had in pelican, copy and pasted the contents of each file from my pelican project to my hugo project. Note that of course I did not copy the front matter of my pelican posts across. Instead I updated the hugo front matter with the same meta data as I had in pelican manually. I repeated this process for my pages too.

My permalinks structure for my old pelican based blog was:


meaning to access my a post it would have URL like:


In hugo I have changed this to:


meaning to access my a post it would have URL like:


I could have kept it the same so that the URL to my existing content moving from Pelican to Hugo would not change, but I prefered to move forward with it this way. This is a personal choice of course.

If you have a look at my config.toml file you will see under the permalinks section how I have defined my permalinks.

For more details on permalinks have a look at the Hugo documentation on permalinks.


By this stage I had migrated all my content to hugo and had setup my site. All tested locally. So to get ready for deployment I created a new GitHub repo for it and pushed my code to it:

To add github repo I created as my remote:

git remote add origin [email protected]:softinio/softinio.com.git

Commit All My work:

git commit -am "Initital version of my site"`

Merge the remote with my local:

git pull origin master

Pushed my code to GitHub:

git push origin master

Creating your Amazon AWS S3 bucket

I already had an account with Amazon AWS so I signed in and created a S3 bucket:

  • The bucket I named www.softinio.com and set it up for static website hosting by following this Amazon Document

When I created the www.softinio.com bucket I also clicked properties and selected the permissions section. Here I edited the bucket policy and added:

    "Version": "2012-10-17",
    "Statement": [
            "Sid": "AddPerm",
            "Effect": "Allow",
            "Principal": "*",
            "Action": "s3:GetObject",
            "Resource": "arn:aws:s3:::<domain/bucket name>/*"

Of course replace <domain/bucket name> with your actual bucket name which for me would be www.softinio.com.

Moving my domains DNS management to Amazon AWS Route 53

I then moved my domain’s DNS management to Amazon AWS Route 53 service for convenience.

I followed the steps in this Amazon document to move my domain’s DNS management.

Creating a User on Amazon AWS to use for deployment

We need to create a user on Amazon AWS to use for deployments to the S3 bucket we created. To do this log into your Amazon AWS console and select Identity & Access Management, then select Users and then select Create New Users.

Give the new user a name and make note of the access keys for this user that gets generated for you.

You will need to create a policy and attach to this user. Here is a sample policy you can use:

    "Version": "2012-10-17",
    "Statement": [
            "Action": "s3:*",
            "Effect": "Allow",
            "Resource": [
                "arn:aws:s3:::<domain/bucket name>",
                "arn:aws:s3:::<domain/bucket name>/*"

Of course replace <domain/bucket name> with what you actually called your Amazon S3 bucket name.

Automate your deployments with Wercker

Head over to Wercker website and click sign up and register for an account.

Once you have your account, login and go to your settings and click git connections. Here click to connect to your GitHub account.

Adding your application to Wercker

I followed these steps:

  • Click Create to start adding your application
  • Select your GitHub Repository
  • Select the repository owner
  • Configure Access (I chose: werker will checkout the code without using an ssh key)
  • I chose not to have my app public

Once the app was created Wercker gave me the option to trigger a build. Decline it as we have not finished creating our app.

Create and add wercker.yml file

In the root of my project I added a new wercker.yml file for my configuration of wercker:

    box: debian
        - arjen/hugo-build:
            version: "0.14"
            theme: hyde-x
            config: config.toml
            flags: --disableSitemap=false
        - s3sync:
            source_dir: public/
            delete-removed: true
            bucket-url: $AWS_BUCKET_URL
            key-id: $AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID
            key-secret: $AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY

Adding environment variables for deployment

Log back into wercker and go to your application settings. Select Targets and in there add 3 new variables to your deploy pipeline:

  • AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID - As provided for the user you created on Amazon AWS

  • AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY - As provided for the user you created on AWS

  • AWS_BUCKET_URL - set this to s3://yourdomain.com (Note: having the s3:// in front of your domain is very important!)

Your first deployment

You are all set now to deploy your hugo website. Commit your changes and push to the GitHub repo you created and your website will be deployed to S3 for you automatically.

From now on when ever you make any changes to your site, as soon as you push to your GitHub repo , it will build and deploy your changes to Amazon S3.


I am really enjoying using Hugo for my blog and having it deploy automatically when I push a change to GitHub. My workflow is a lot simpler now making it easier for me to write and publish my blogs.

You may ask why I moved from the Python based Pelican to Hugo, well I simply wanted to try something new. I think both Pelican and Hugo are great at what they do so you can’t go wrong with either.

If I had to choose between them, I would choose Hugo for the more modern approach and excellent documentation.