Host WordPress in Web 3 with Simply Static

I never really got into Web 3, Crypto, and NFTs. I think that’s mainly because I haven’t seen any real benefit for my professional and private life.

I understand the concepts of Blockchain, crypto, and the benefits of ownership that Web 3 offers us and that it is already a big thing, but as a solo developer in the WordPress world, I already have so much stuff to keep track of (React, the Block Editor, improving and maintaining my products, doing marketing and all other business-related tasks) so there was never a good time to get into it.

By the end of June, I got mentioned in a tweet where someone showed how to use Simply Static to store your static WordPress website in the Permaweb (a dedicated Web3 hosting environment powered by Arweave).

If you are not into Twitter, here is the video:

The Arweave team asked about a possible cooperation to bring the power of ArDrive to WordPress users by using Simply Static as a middleware.

To get started, you need to learn 3 things (No worry, it’s easy!) – ArWeave, ArConnect, and ArDrive. We cover all of them now.

What is ArWeave?

ArWeave is a network to store data in the permaweb. That basically means you can store data permanently for a one-time fee. I couldn’t come up with a better explanation than ArWeave itself, so I gladly take their words for it:

On top of the Arweave network lives the permaweb: a global, community-owned web that anyone can contribute to or get paid to maintain.
The permaweb looks just like the normal web, but all of its content – from images to full web apps – is permanent, retrieved quickly, and decentralized – forever. Just as the first web connected people over vast distances, the permaweb connects people over extremely long periods of time.
No more 404s. No more stealth edits. No more web apps that decline in quality.

Coming from the Arweave website

What is ArConnect?

ArConnect is a browser extension (available for Firefox, Chrome, and Safari) to easily manage your wallet and verify your account for ArDrive. You can store your wallet here, and you have a direct overview of your current status of $AR you can spend.

What is ArDrive (Web 3 hosting)?

ArDrive is where you can put all the power of the ArWeave protocol and network to practical use. It’s a web app to easily upload, manage and share files from the Blockchain.

They did a really great job explaining how to use ArDrive and what is required to get up and running here. So I will not cover the entire configuration and just want to show you the basic steps involved:

  1. Install the browser addon called “ArConnect” from here.
  2. Get some $AR to pay for the transfer to the blockchain. I recommend grabbing some free $AR right here.
  3. Download the JSON file and add the wallet to your ArConnect chrome addon
  4. Log in to ArDrive and you can start uploading your files

Setting up a new drive

Once you have everything in place, you can log in to ArDrive and create a new drive:

Web 3 ArDrive Dashboard

I created a new drive called “simply-static-test” and set it to public.

Prepare the static WordPress website for Web 3

I created a pretty basic WordPress website with the TwentyTwenty theme and used Full Site Editing to make a simple frontpage:

Simply Static ArDrive Example

I installed Simply Static from Plugins -> Add New and configured “ZIP Archive” as the delivery method in Simply Static -> Settings:

Host WordPress in Web 3 with Simply Static 1

Then I moved to Simply Static -> Generate and clicked the “Generate static files” button.

Host WordPress in Web 3 with Simply Static 2

Uploading Files to ArDrive

I cleaned up the ZIP file a bit and used just the homepage and the wp-content directory and started uploading it to ArDrive:

Upload Files to ArDrive

Once you hit “Upload”, you have to wait a bit until all your files are signed:

Sigining Files in ArDrive

Creating a Manifest

Once all your files are uploaded, the last step is to create a Manifest in ArDrive. You can do that by clicking “New” -> “Create Manifest”:

Create a Manifest in ArDrive

That’s it! Your static website is now part of the permaweb. Click on the manifest file and use the “Preview” button and you will be redirected to your static website stored in the Blockchain.

You can preview my result right here:

Wrapping up

ArDrive gave me an easy and understandable way to host my static website on the Permaweb. Hosting your websites there is fairly cheap, especially considering that you only pay once you upload your files, and there are no ongoing subscriptions for hosting your files there.

I’m impressed by how smooth the overall process was, and I’m sure even non-technical people can work with the web app to store their files and static websites in the Permaweb.

There are many cool things coming to ArDrive in the next months. One thing that will be really handy is the versioning. I will watch the development of it closely and may update the article once new things are available.