Publ: Getting started

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This guide will walk you through setting up Publ on your local computer so that you can build and run a site that runs locally. To learn how to run this website on a webserver, see the deployment guides.

Installing system requirements

You’ll need Python (at least version 3.5) and pipenv to be installed. If you don’t know what that means, follow the directions specific to your operating system, below.


On macOS this is pretty straightforward; after installing Homebrew you can install these things with:

brew install python
pip3 install --user pipenv

and then add the following line to your login script (usually ~/.bash_profile):

export PATH=$HOME/Library/Python/3.7/bin:$PATH

As an alternative to homebrew you can install Python 3.5 or later from the Python website, using your package manager of choice, or using pyenv.


Your distribution probably provides packages for python3; make sure to get python 3.5 or later, and to also install pip3 (Ubuntu keeps this in the python3-pip package; other distributions will vary).

Afterwards, you can install pipenv with either:

sudo pip3 install pipenv


pip3 install --user pipenv

If you do the latter, make sure your pip user directory is on your PATH; this will probably be $HOME/.local/bin but it might vary based on your distribution.

Also, if pip3 doesn’t work, try running just pip instead; not all distributions differentiate between Python 2 and 3 anymore.

If your distribution doesn’t provide an easy recent version, consider using pyenv.


  1. Install Python

    When you install, make sure to check the option for “add python to your PATH” and if you customize the installation, make sure it installs pip as well

  2. Install Visual Studio, making sure to select “Visual C++ build tools” at the very least.

    This is unfortunately necessary for some of the libraries Publ depends on. You can either install the Visual Studio Community Edition, or you can install just the build tools (under the “Tools for Visual Studio” section).

  3. (Optional, but recommended) Install some sort of bash environment, such as MinGW. The “git bash” that comes with Git for Windows is a pretty good choice.

  4. From a command prompt (e.g. git bash, a Windows CMD prompt, or from “Run program…” from the start menu):

    pip install pipenv

Making a website

  1. Clone a local copy of this website repository.

    You can use the command line (e.g. git clone or you can use your favorite git frontend for this (such as GitHub Desktop).

  2. Run the Publ setup script

    On macOS and Linux, or on Windows using git bash, open a command prompt and cd into where you checked out the files, and run ./

    On Windows, double-click the winsetup.cmd file (which may appear as just winsetup)

  3. Launch the website locally

    On macOS and Linux, or on Windows using git bash, run ./ (also from the same directory).

    On Windows, double-click the winrun.cmd file (which may appear as just winrun)

Now, connecting to http://localhost:5000 should show you this website. Note that on the first page load it will take a little while before all of the content is visible – but you can watch the site build in your terminal window to see it finish.

If you need to run the site on a different port (for example, you get an error like OSError: [Errno 48] Address already in use), you can change this by setting the FLASK_RUN_PORT environment variable; for example:


will run the site at http://localhost:12345 instead.

Setting one up from scratch

Creating the environment

To make your own Publ-based site, you’ll need to use virtualenv+pip or pipenv to set up a sandbox and install the Publ package to it. I recommend pipenv for a number of reasons but if you’re familiar with virtualenv or are using a hosting provider that requires it, feel free to do that instead.

You can copy the and from the main site, and also winsetup.cmd and winrun.cmd if you would like to run it on Windows.

If you’re using pipenv the command would be:

pipenv --three install Publ

and if you’re doing the virtualenv approach it would be:

virtualenv env
env/bin/pip3 install Publ

Next, you’ll need a file. Here is a pretty minimal one:

import os
import publ

APP_PATH = os.path.dirname(os.path.abspath(__file__))

config = {
    'database_config': {
        'provider': 'sqlite',
        'filename': os.path.join(APP_PATH, 'index.db')
app = publ.publ(__name__, config)

Now, you’ll need directories for your site content; create folders named content, templates, and static in the same directory as From the command line you can type:

mkdir -p content templates static

Then you can launch your (not yet very functional) site with

pipenv run flask run

if you’re using pipenv, or

env/bin/flask run

if you’re using virtualenv. (Both must be run from the same directory as

Now you should have a site running at http://localhost:5000 that does absolutely nothing! Congratulations!

Basic templates

The following template files are available from the publ site repository.

For a fairly minimal site, create the file templates/index.html:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<title>{{ or 'My simple site' }}</title>

<h1>{{ or 'My simple site'}}</h1>
{% for entry in view.entries %}
<h2><a href="{{entry.permalink}}">{{ entry.title }}</a></h2>
{{ entry.body }}

{% if entry.more %}
<a rel="more" href="{{entry.permalink}}">More...</a>
{% endif %}
{% endfor %}


and templates/entry.html:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<title>{{ entry.title }}</title>

<h1><a href="{{}}">{{ or 'My simple site' }}</a></h1>
<h2>{{ entry.title }}</h2>

{{ entry.body }}
{{ entry.more }}


Now you can finally create a content file; for example, create a file called in the content directory:

Title: My first entry!

This is my first entry on this website.


This is the extended text.

After Publ sees the content file, it should now get some extra stuff in the headers, namely a Date, an Entry-ID, and a UUID. These are how Publ tracks the publishing information for the entry itself. It’s a good idea to leave them alone unless you know what you’re doing.

Anyway, read on for more information about how to build a bigger site!

What does what

Looking at the files for this site, here are some key things to look at:

  • Pipfile and Pipfile.lock: Configures pipenv
  • Main “application” that runs the site
  • Procfile: Configures the site to run on Heroku
  • templates/: The site layout files (i.e. how to lay your content out). Some you can look at:
    • index.html: What renders when you view a category (e.g. /manual/)
    • entry.html: What renders when you look at an individual page (like this one)
    • feed.xml: The Atom feed
    • error.html: The error page (for example)
    • sitemap.xml: Produces a sitemap for search engines
  • content/: The content on this site (for example, this page’s content is stored in content/manual/Getting
  • static/: Things that never change; for example, stylesheets and Javascript libraries. For example, this site has:
    • style.css: the global stylesheet
    • lightbox: A library used for presenting images in a gallery (example page)
    • pygments.default.css: A stylesheet used by the Markdown engine when formatting code

For more information about templates, see the manual on template formats. The only required templates are index.html, entry.html, and error.html.

For more information about content, see that manual page.

I also have made some of my own website templates available.

Putting it on the web

Getting a Publ site online depends a lot on how you’re going to be hosting it. If you’re savvy with Flask apps you probably know what to do; otherwise, check out the deployment guides to see if there’s anything that covers your usage.