Introduction

Fanstatic is a small but powerful framework for the automatic publication of resources on a web page. Think Javascript and CSS. It just serves static content, but it does it really well.

Can you use it in your project? If you use Python, yes: Fanstatic is web-framework agnostic, and will work with any web framework that supports WSGI. Fanstatic is issued under the BSD license.

Why would you need something like Fanstatic? Can’t you just add your static resources to some statically served directory and forget about them? For small projects this is certainly sufficient. But so much more is possible and useful in this modern Javascript-heavy world. Fanstatic is able to offer a lot of powerful features for projects both small and large.

Fanstatic has a lot of cool features:

Always the right resources

  • Import Javascript as easily as Python: Javascript dependencies are a Python import statement away. Importing Python code is easy, why should it be harder to import Javascript code?
  • Depend in the right place: do you have a lot of server-side code that assembles a web page? Want your datetime widget to pull in a datetime Javascript library, but only when that widget is on the page? Fanstatic lets you do that with one line of Python code.
  • Dependency tracking: use a Javascript or CSS file that uses another one that in turn uses another one? Fanstatic knows about dependencies and will make sure all dependencies will appear on your page automatically. Have minified or rolled up versions available? Fanstatic can automatically serve those too.
  • Declare dependencies: want to publish your own Javascript library? Have your own CSS? Does it depend on other stuff? Fanstatic lets you declare dependencies with a few lines of Python code.

Optimization

  • Serve the right version: have alternative versions of your resource available? Want to serve minified versions of your Javascript during deployment? Debug versions during development? It’s one configuration option away.
  • Bundle up resources: roll up multiple resources into one and serve the combined resource to optimize page load time. Bundled resources can be generated automatically, or can automatically served when available.
  • Run compilers and minifiers: Fanstatic knows how to run compilers like CoffeeScript, SASS or LESS, as well as minifiers like uglifyjs or cssmin on your resources. Just write your code in the language you prefer and let Fanstatic take care of the rest.
  • Optimize load times: Fanstatic knows about tricks to optimize the load time of your Javascript, for instance by including script tags at the bottom of your web page instead of in the head section.

Smart Caching

  • Infinite caching: Fanstatic can publish static resources on unique URLs, so that the cache duration can be set to infinity. This means that browsers will hold on to your static resources: web server only gets that resource request once per user and no more. If a front-end in cache is in use, you reduce that to once per resource; the cache will handle all other hits.
  • Automatic deployment cache invalidation: Fanstatic can automatically update all your resource URLs if new versions of resources are released in an application update. No longer do you need to instruct your user to use shift-reload in their application to refresh their resources.
  • Automatic development cache invalidation: you can instruct Fanstatic to run in development mode. It will automatically use new URLs whenever you change your code now. No longer do you as a developer need to do shift-reload whenever you change a resource; just reload the page.

Powerful Deployment

  • Automated deployment: no longer do you need to tell people in separate instructions to publish Javascript libraries on a certain URL: Fanstatic can publish these for you automatically and transparently.
  • Pre-packaged libraries: A lot of pre-packaged Javascript libraries are available on the PyPI and are maintained by the Fanstatic community. This can be installed into your project right away using easy_install, pip or buildout. No more complicated installation instructions, just reuse a Javascript library like you reuse Python libraries.

Compatible

  • Fits your web framework: Fanstatic integrates with any WSGI-compliant Python web framework.
  • Roll your own: Not happy with the details of how Fanstatic works? We’ve already split the Fanstatic WSGI component into separately usable components so you can mix and match and roll your own.