Assemble is a static site generator for node.js that provides a massive amount of flexibility to build static sites. It allows you to build full static sites, themes, blogs, documentation or anything else you might want to generate through a template engine like Handlebars.
I will almost always use assemble to build a static site because it makes it much easier to divide a site into components and devise different ways one could break the site. Even a one page campaign site can benefit from being build in a static site generator as it helps with breaking styles into reusable bits too.
Assemble is perfect for prototyping a site out before integrating into a CMS. If you work with a large team of both front end and back end engineers, the code hand off is a lot smoother when handing over markup that has already been componentized.
It also allows you to throw components around and arrange them much easier to iron out any edge cases or things that might break a layout. If you’re full stack and working on a more enterprisey Java or .Net CMS, you may have to compile when you update markup, so testing everything out in a static build first could save you time.
Assemble has changed massively over the last year or so and most of the documentation is still in the process of being updated. Much of it still refers to grunt-assemble, which is great, but lacks many of the new features, and up to date template engines.
I’ve put together a bare bones boilerplate for prototyping sites with Assemble. It’s cleverly named ‘Assemble boilerplate for rapid prototyping‘.
Clone it, scaffold the rest of your project (css pre/post processors, js scrunchers, whatever), and reward yourself for the hours you’ve saved debugging and integrating code. Or use it to make a really cool static site. Just do it.
Watch out soon for a post demo’ing how I use assemble to develop prototypes.