Chapter 3 Deployment

Since the website is basically a folder containing static files, it is much easier to deploy than websites that require dynamic server-side languages such as PHP or databases. All you need is to upload the files to a server, and usually your website will be up and running shortly. The key question is which web server you want to use. If you do not have your own server, you may try the ones listed in this chapter. Most of them are free (except Amazon S3), or at least provide free plans. Disclaimer: the authors of this book are not affiliated with any of these services or companies, and there is no guarantee that these services will be provided forever.21

Considering the cost and friendliness to beginners, we currently recommend Netlify. It provides a free plan that actually has quite a lot of useful features. If you have no experience in publishing websites before, just log in using your GitHub account or other accounts, drag the public/ folder built by blogdown for your website to the Netlify page, and your website will be online in a few seconds with a random subdomain name of the form provided by Netlify (you can customize the name). You can easily automate this process (see Section 3.1 for more details). You do not need to wrestle with ssh or rsync -zrvce any more, if you know what these commands mean.

The second easiest solution may be Updog, which features Dropbox integration. Publishing a website can be as easy as copying the files under the public/ folder of your blogdown website to a Dropbox folder. The free plan of Updog only provides limited features, and its paid plan will give you access to much richer features.

If you do not mind using command-line tools or are familiar with GIT/GitHub, you can certainly consider services like GitHub pages, Travis CI, or Amazon S3 to build or host your websites. No matter which service you use, please keep in mind that none of them can really lock you and you are always free to change the service. As we have mentioned before, one great advantage of blogdown is that your website will be a folder of static files that you can move to any web server.

  1. You can easily find other similar services if you use your search engine.