created_at2017-07-19 16:32:32.154137
updated_at2022-01-19 01:18:38.380854
descriptionCreate a compressed copy of files matching a glob to serve statically compressed files with a web server
Mahmoud Al-Qudsi (mqudsi)




static-compress is command-line utility that can be used to aid in the generation of a statically pre-compressed copy of a given directory subtree, useful for serving statically precompressed content via a webserver like nginx or apache.

static-compress currently supports creating statically compressed copies of files matching a given glob (expression) in the gzip and brotli formats. gzip-compressed files can be generated either via the standard miniz library, or via the slower-but-higher-compression zopfli algorithm, recently developed by Google. As of version 0.3, static-compress also features webp support for image compression.


static-compress is available via the cargo package manager on all supported platforms and may be installed by simply executing

cargo install static-compress

Pre-built, signed binaries for select platforms can also be found at the static-compress homepage at



static-compress [OPTIONS] <FILTER>...

Usage of static-compress is straightforward. It is invoked with either a list of files to pre-compress or an expression such as *.rs (to match all files in the current directory with a .rs extension) or **/*.png (to match .png files in all subdirectories).

No options are required, but optional command line switches are available to influence the behavior of static-compress:

-c, --compressor <[brotli|gzip|            The compressor to use, defaulting to gzip
-e, --extension <.EXT>                     The extension to use for compressed files. Supplied
                                           automatically if not provided.
-j, --threads <COUNT>                      The number of simultaneous conversions
-q, --quality <QUALITY>                    The algorithm-specific quality parameter to be used.
                                           Automatically set if not provided.

Multithreading may be achieved by means of the -j switch (akin to make), and can be used to specify the number of files to be compressed simultaneously across multiple threads. By default, static-compress uses only one thread.

The algorithm-specific --quality switch can be used to set the quality parameter for the chosen compressor (if supported):

Compressor --quality range
gzip 0 - 10
brotli 0 - 11
webp 0 - 100
zopfli not supported

Supported Globs/Expressions

Supported filters/expressions include * to match any filename pattern, ** to match recursively across all subdirectories, and ? to substitute any single character. A bracket containing multiple characters will match any one character within the brackets (e.g. [abc] will match a or b but not aa), and curly braces can be used to match any of the comma-separated contents (e.g. {abc,def}).

static-compress supports the following filter expressions, all of which will match the same file

  • ./relative/path/to/
  • /absolute/path/to/
  • relative/*/*/
  • **/
  • **/[rz]
  • **/{foo|something}.bar

Important Note: Make sure to place expressions in double-quotes to prevent your shell from globbing the expressions! i.e. use static-compress "*.html" and not static-compress *.html. The latter may cause an argument overflow in the presence of too many files, and will not use static-compress' intelligent globbing, relying on your shell to expand the glob instead!

Supported Compression Methods

Currently, static-compress supports the gzip and brotli general-purpose compression algortithms for compressing web content. Almost all web servers and web browsers in use today have full gzip support. brotli is a newer web-compression format developed by Google, that can be used to achieve higher levels of compression than gzip, though compression is more taxing on the server. For that reason, it is especially desirable to be able to pre-compress a given directory tree instead of (re-)compressing files each time they are requested.

static-compress also supports zopfli, which is akin to gzip -11 (we jest!). The only problem is that zopfli is ridiculously slow and absolutely not intended to be used for dynamic compression. Again, this is another area where pre-compression is the way to go, and static-compress makes it easy to prepare a directory tree to serve zopfli-compressed versions of its contents. Unlike brotli, zopfli is gzip-compatible meaning any browser that supports gzip decompression also supports zopfli - but zopfli is both slower at compressing and typically does not achieve the same compression rates that brotli currently does. (Given the requirement of playing nicely with browsers from the 90s, it's good at what it does.)

As of version 0.3, static-compress also features webp support for image compression. In our testing on a corpus of the approximately 15,000 images uploaded to the NeoSmart website in PNG and JPG formats, webp compression with a quality parameter of 90 (the default --quality parameter for webp in static-compress) resulted in a 65% reduction in file size with no appreciable increase in artifacts.

Mode of Operation

static-compress is an intelligent compressor meant for use in day-to-day web deployment and system administration tasks. The entire point of static-compress verses the usage of an extremely fragile and overly-complicated batch script (find with mtime, gzip|brotli, parallel, touch, and more) is to make life easier and the results more portable/deterministic. static-compress can be safely run against any directory tree, and by default it

  • Compresses only files that haven't been previously statically compressed (it sets the modification date of the statically-compressed copy of a file to match the original, and only recompresses if this does not match),
  • Does not compress already compressed files (i.e. won't recompress your pre-compressed .gz files as,
  • Can be configured to use as many or as few threads as you like for simultaneous compression,
  • Can be used to compress an entire directory tree (static-compress "**") or just files matching a certain extension (static-compress "**/*.html") or only matching a certain prefix or subpath (static-compress "**/tocompress/*")

Web Server Configuration

Given a subdirectory optimized, the contents of which have been pre-compressed in both gzip and brotli formats via static-compress optimized/** and static-compress optimized/** -c brotli, the instructions for configuring your web server to use the statically pre-compressed version of the original files is as follows:


To serve gzip-compressed files, nginx must be compiled with the ngx_http_gzip_static_module module (included in the default distribution) by specifying --with-http_gzip_static_module at build time. Thereafter, the following configuration may be used:

location optimized {
  gzip_static on;

To serve brotli-compressed files, nginx must be compiled with the ngx_brotli module (available separately) by specifying --add-module ../ngx_brotli at build time. Thereafter, the following configuration may be used:

location optimized {
  brotli_static on;

If both the ngx_brotli and ngx_http_gzip_static_module modules have been installed, the two directives may be safely used in the same location block:

location optimized {
  brotli_static on;
  gzip_static on;

Note that the file type options for both modules (brotli_types and gzip_types) do not apply to the static option; all files, even those not specified for dynamic compression via these two _types options, may be served in these formats if a .br or .gz file with the same name resides in the same directory.

Acknowledgements, authorship, license, and copyright

static-compress is made freely available to the public under the terms of the MIT license. static-compress is open source and would not have been possible without the flate2 and zopfli crate authors, as well as the original creators of the brotli, gzip, and zopfli algorithms.

static-compress is written by Mahmoud Al-Qudsi <> under the stewardship of NeoSmart Technologies. The name static-compress and all other rights not conferred by the MIT license are reserved and copyright of NeoSmart Technologies, 2017.

Commit count: 81

cargo fmt