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Dapper is one of the few active static site generators for the Perl community, a command-line utility that takes content stored in Markdown files, arranges it via a preset template, and generates a static HTML page which webmasters can serve to their users.

Markdown syntax is used to format the way the text appears on the site, while YAML is used to store various site details and meta data.

Dapper doesn't work in real-time, so every time a webmaster makes a change to the content, he'll need to re-build and update his site via simple CLI commands.

Using this approach, Dapper-generated sites are quite fast being easier to load since pages are a lot smaller and don't require any server-side logic or operations.

Sites are also portable, being easier to move from server to server, since there are no complex database migrations involved, operations which usually take up lots of time and generate most of the errors.

And to make things even better, Dappe also comes with a built-in Web server, so you won't have to mess around with various server technologies. Just install Dapper, run a few CLI commands and you're ready to go.

Distributed as a Perl module, Dapper comes with a command-line application called dapper which you can use to create static websites.

$ cpanm App::Dapper
$ dapper init
$ dapper serve # Serve site at http://localhost:8000


Dapper has three goals:

  1. Simple. Learning Dapper is easy Ė it gets out of the way so you can write content, develop layouts, and deploy to production the way you want.
  2. Flexible. Content is written in Markdown, and templates are written using the TT3 mini-language from Template::Alloy for maximum flexibility.
  3. Pragmatic. The easy things are easy and the hard things are possible. Dapper was created to solve problems in a straight-forward and intuitive way.


Why static? Decent question. Here are some reasons:

  1. Fast. Static pages are fast to load and easy to cache. Content management systems, on the other hand, may contact the database at least one time per page request, process the results, merge with a templating system, and serve the result to the userís web browser.
  2. Cheap. Having a static website means that options for hosting those static files also just got a lot more simple. No database is needed and no real processing power for scripting is needed. For example, with a static website, it becomes possible to host the site on Github Pages, BitBalloon, or Amazon S3 for free or for very modest fees.
  3. Secure. Itís much more secure to host a static website than a dynamic one. Content management systems that use scripting languages such as Perl, Python, or Ruby, all are more susceptible to being hacked than a static website is. Simply stated, why use a dynamic content- management system if a static setup will do?
  4. Portable. With a static website, itís way easier to move the site to a new host in the future. All web hosts now and in the future support serving up a static website Ė think of it as the lowest common denominator Ė and so thereís no need to pick a premium host with premium services.


Dapper was first written in 2002 to facilitate the creation of a series of static websites that each had their own look and feel, but shared content. Since then, Dapper has been used to create websites for speakers, artists, authors, illusionists, web designers, piano tuners, photographers, entertainment agencies, and API documentation for industrial sensing equipment. In addition, it is the tool that powers Vanilla Draft.

In 2014, Dapper was submitted as a Perl module (App::Dapper) to CPAN under the MIT license for anyone to use for any purpose.


Find more infomration at Vanilla Draft or on Github.



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