Cache Busting Static Assets in Hugo

While looking for a way to cache bust static assets in Hugo, I came across complex Bash and Python scripts that accomplished the task. For simple cache busting, however, there is no need to rely on external scripts or build systems. As of v0.43, Hugo has a built-in tool for getting the hash of a file and inserting the hash into the filename.

I added the following to the template that contains the <head> section:

{{ $options := (dict "targetPath" "css/journal.css" "outputStyle" "compressed") }}
{{ $styles := resources.Get "scss/journal.scss" | toCSS $options | fingerprint }}
<link rel="stylesheet" href="{{ $styles.Permalink }}" integrity="{{ $styles.Data.Integrity }}">

That’s it. No need for npm packages, and no need to waste time writing scripts.

There is actually more in this example than necessary for simple cache busting, but since most people are probably looking to cache bust generated CSS, I decided to include the additional pieces.

I have a single Sass file which needs to be converted to plain CSS, so I use the toCSS transformation function (an alias of resources.ToCSS) on the .scss file. $options is a list of key-value pairs that specifies options for the conversion from Sass to CSS. I then pipe the result into the fingerprint function, which by default produces a SHA-256 hash. With Hugo Pipes, you extract the full URL of the resource with .Permalink.

The end result:

https://johnjago.com/blog/css/journal.28ff9597bd48cd1d12c385c13aba5c051f64fd0251790ce49bb49e8911e9f79d.css

Every time I change the CSS and run the Hugo build, fingerprint generates a new hash, so browsers will download the new CSS. If I don’t change the CSS, the hash will be the same, so browsers will load the styles from cache. This allows for a cache expiry date far in the future while ensuring that browsers load any changes right away.

If you don’t use Sass or want to cache bust images or JavaScript, something like the following is sufficient.

{{ $styles := resources.Get "css/journal.css" | fingerprint }}
<link rel="stylesheet" href="{{ $styles.Permalink }}" integrity="{{ $styles.Data.Integrity }}">

If you’re wondering what the integrity attribute is for, it’s a security feature called Subresource Integrity. If a malicious actor tampers with the file before it gets to your browser, the hash will not match, and the browser won’t execute the script or apply the stylesheet.

A final note: If you plan on using the toCSS function, you will need the extended Hugo binary. On the GitHub releases page, these are the ones that start with hugo_extended_.