Standard Project Structure

Here is the standard project structure you'll see in DocPad projects:

  • my-website/

    • out/

    • source/

      • render/ (also documents/, for backwards compatibility)

      • static/ (also files/, for backwards compatibility)

      • layouts/

    • docpad.coffee

    • package.json

The out Directory

This directory contains anything that DocPad generates. Any new files added to the source directory will be found here after being rendered and written by DocPad. However any files that are deleted from the source directory will not be deleted from the outdirectory by DocPad, you have to delete them manually. So if you remove a file and it's still there remember to delete it manually. ;-)

The source Directory

This directory contains your website's source files. It contains your layouts, files to be rendered and be in the output and files that are not to be rendered but will still be in the output. The source can have the following folders:

  • The layouts directory

  • The render directory (also documents, for backwards compatibility, for backwards compatibility))

  • The static directory (also files

The render and documents directories, and the static and files directories, are merged; files appearing in either are rendered or copied to the output. However, you should use the former names rather than the latter to conform with the latest naming conventions.

The layouts Directory

Layouts work in a very similar way to files in render, in that they are rendered and they support meta data. Unlike the files in render, however, they are not output to the out directory, as they only exist to wrap files in render and other layouts within themselves. Layouts work in a nested fashion, with the desired layout being defined by the layout meta data property within the child layout/document.

Layouts should include child content, which is done using the content template data variable. For instance, the code to use the content variable with the Eco templating engine via the Eco DocPad plugin would be <%- @content %>.

The render Directory

These are files that we would like to render. Rendering occurs extension to extension in the same way the Ruby on Rails asset pipeline works. This means the document source/render/hello.ext1.ext2.ext3 is rendered from ext3 to ext2, then from ext2 to ext1, resulting in the file out/hello.ext1. More common examples of this are rendering CoffeeScript to JavaScript with the document source/render/script.js.coffee to out/script.js or writing a blog post that renders from Markdown to HTML with the document source/render/blog/hello.html.md to out/blog/hello.html.

The reason we do not support direct rendering from script.coffee to script.js is that such a convention would eliminate the ability to combine extension renderings, also because ambiguity between extensions that can be rendered in multiple ways. For instance the coffee extension could be rendered using CoffeeScript to JavaScript or using CoffeeKup to HTML. However, if you really want to use just a single extension, such a thing is supported by the renderSingleExtensions meta property.

The other important aspect of files in render is that they support meta data. Meta data goes at the top of a document and defines information about that particular document. For instance, its title, date and layout are good examples. Meta data is not restricted to particular values, meaning you can define whatever meta data you want against a document. There are some special meta data properties, however, that perform certain functions (e.g., layout is used to specify the layout that should be used to wrap the document). You can find the complete listing of special meta data properties on the Meta Data page.

The static Directory

Files in this folder, like those in render, are output to the out directory. The difference lies in that they are not rendered and do not support meta data. This is where you should put everything that doesn't need to be rendered or need meta data. For example, images, vendor files, plain stylesheet and JavaScript files, etc.

The docpad.coffee file

The docpad.coffee file can have several different extensions. It defines DocPad's settings. You can find full documentation on the Configuration docs page.

The package.json File

This file is needed for every Node.js application. It defines the dependencies that your application requires, such as the DocPad version that your site is developed with and the plugins you are running. You can learn more about package.json files on this page of our Hands on Node Training.