This blog, which is now generated with Hugo, uses the permalink structure /:year/:month/:slug (the slug is a url-safe version of the title). There are also “archive” pages, which list the articles posted in a given month or year. These pages have a permalink structure that compliments the post permalinks: /:year/:month and /:year respectively.

Back when this blog was generated with Jekyll, I used a plugin to generate the archive pages but there is no such mechanism in Hugo. It is possible to use taxonomies to accomplish this, but it involves defining a taxonomy for each year in the Hugo config, creating a corresponding layout and also adding redundant frontmatter to each post.

As an alternative, I created 2 new “sections” (top level subfolders in the content folder): archy and archm. archy contains one file per year and archm contains one file per month. These files can be generated automatically (see below).

Config

Define permalinks in the Hugo config file:

config.toml

# prevent hugo from creating folders/indexes for each section
disableKinds = ["section"]

[permalinks]
    # :title is used if :slug is not defined in post frontmatter
    posts = "/:year/:month/:slug/"
    archm = "/:year/:month/"
    archy = "/:year/"

Templates

Section Layouts

Create a corresponding layout for each section:

layouts/archy/single.html

{{ $archYear := .Date.Format "2006" }}

<h2>Archive for {{ $archYear }}</h2>

{{ range where .Site.Pages "Section" "posts" }}
    {{ if eq (.Date.Format "2006") $archYear }}
        {{ partial "post/archive" . }}
    {{ end }}
{{ end }}

layouts/archm/single.html

{{ $archYear := .Date.Format "2006" }}
{{ $archMonth := .Date.Format "January" }}

<h2>Archive for {{ $archMonth }} {{ $archYear }}</h2>

{{ range where .Site.Pages "Section" "posts" }}
    {{ if and (eq (.Date.Format "2006") $archYear) (eq (.Date.Format "January") $archMonth) }}
        {{ partial "post/archive" . }}
    {{ end }}
{{ end }}

layouts/partials/post/archive.html

<h3 class="post-title"><a href="{{ .Permalink }}">{{ .Title }}</a></h3>
<span class="post-date">{{ .Date.Format "02 Jan 2006" }}</span>
<div>{{ .Summary }}</div>

RSS Template

You probably don’t want the archy and archm pages to appear in the main RSS feed, so ensure your RSS Template uses a range with a where clause that limits it to pages of type posts:

{{ range first 10 (where .Data.Pages "Section" "posts") }}
<item>
    {{/* item child elements */}}
</item>
{{ end }}

Note: It is not recommended to set the rssLimit Hugo config option because it will count pages of all types. This is why the first 10 clause exists in the above example (which causes the feed to display a maximum of 10 items).

When disableKinds = ["section"] is set in the Hugo config, .NextInSection and .PrevInSection cannot be used when creating navigation links.

In effect, this:

{{ with .NextInSection }}
    <a class="next" href="{{ .Permalink }}"><b>Next:</b> {{ .Title }}</a>
{{ end }}
{{ with .PrevInSection }}
    <a class="prev" href="{{ .Permalink }}"><b>Previous:</b> {{ .Title }}</a>
{{ end }}

becomes this:

{{ $.Scratch.Set "found" false }}
{{ $.Scratch.Set "prev" "" }}
{{ $.Scratch.Set "next" "" }}
{{ range where .Site.Pages "Section" "posts" }}
    {{ if eq .Permalink $.Permalink }}
        {{ $.Scratch.Set "found" true }}
    {{ else }}
        {{ if not ($.Scratch.Get "found") }}
            {{ $.Scratch.Set "next" . }}
        {{ else if eq ($.Scratch.Get "prev") "" }}
            {{ $.Scratch.Set "prev" . }}
        {{ end }}
    {{ end }}
{{ end }}
{{ with $.Scratch.Get "next" }}
    <a class="next" href="{{ .Permalink }}"><b>Next:</b> {{ .Title }}</a>
{{ end }}
{{ with $.Scratch.Get "prev" }}
    <a class="prev" href="{{ .Permalink }}"><b>Previous:</b> {{ .Title }}</a>
{{ end }}

You can generate a list of archive links like so:

<h3>Archive</h3>
<ul class="years">
    {{ range where .Site.Pages "Section" "archy" }}
    {{ $year := .Date.Format "2006" }}
    <li>
        <a href="{{ .Permalink }}">{{ $year }}</a>
        <ul class="months">
            {{ range where .Site.Pages "Section" "archm" }}
                {{ if eq (.Date.Format "2006") $year }}
                    <li><a href="{{ .Permalink }}">{{ .Date.Format "January" }}</a></li>
                {{ end }}
            {{ end }}
        </ul>
    </li>
    {{ end }}
</ul>

Section Content

The archy and archm content files each contain a single line of JSON specifying the corresponding date. For example:

content/archy/2008.md

{"date": "2008-01-01 00:00:00"}

content/archm/2008-09.md

{"date": "2008-09-01 00:00:00"}

Automation

I use the following script to generate the content files for archy and archm after analyzing the articles in the posts section. Note: I use YAML frontmatter in the post markdown files so this script uses the yaml-front-matter npm module to parse them. Be sure to use a parser that matches your frontmatter format.

scripts/gen-archives.js

#!/usr/bin/env node

const fs = require('fs');
const path = require('path');
const mkdirp = require('mkdirp');
const jsYaml = require('yaml-front-matter');

const years = {};
const contentPath = path.join(__dirname, '..', 'content');
const postsPath = path.join(contentPath, 'posts');
const archmPath = path.join(contentPath, 'archm');
const archyPath = path.join(contentPath, 'archy');

mkdirp.sync(archmPath);
mkdirp.sync(archyPath);

fs.readdirSync(postsPath).forEach(filePath => {
    //console.log(filePath);
    if(!filePath.match(/\.md$/)) { return; }
    const content = fs.readFileSync(path.join(postsPath, filePath), 'utf8');
    const meta = jsYaml.loadFront(content);
    if (meta.draft) {
        return;
    }
    const y = meta.date.getFullYear().toString();
    const m = ('0' + (meta.date.getMonth() + 1)).slice(-2);
    if (!years.hasOwnProperty(y)) {
        years[y] = new Set();
        writeFile(path.join(archyPath, `${y}.md`), y, '01');
    }
    if (!years[y].has(m)) {
        years[y].add(m);
        writeFile(path.join(archmPath, `${y}-${m}.md`), y, m);
    }
});

function writeFile(outPath, y, m)
{
    fs.writeFileSync(outPath, JSON.stringify({date: `${y}-${m}-01 00:00:00`}), 'utf8');
    console.log('++', outPath);
}

Real Talk

This method provides an alternative to using taxonomies, but it may not be the best fit for every site.

No associated RSS feed is generated for the archive pages. This doesn’t bother me because, for this blog, a feed of posts in a given time frame does not seem useful. Your requirements may vary.

If sections are disabled with the disableKinds config option, permalinks must be defined for any section with content that should be output. If you use additional sections (events, etc) there will be no RSS feed automatically generated for those sections. Taxonomy feeds (for tags, etc) will still be generated.

The additional build step of running a script to scan the posts folder and generate the archy and archm content is worth it to me to keep the post’s date frontmatter as the canonical source for when it was posted (as opposed to defining a redundant taxonomy in each post). Also, the script only has to output JSON data which is less brittle than attempting to generate layouts and programmatically modifying the Hugo config (which would be required to automate the taxonomy-based method).