Switching to Jekyll

For several years now, I’ve used Wordpress to power this site. As I’ve learned to use new tools for coding (vim, git and so on), Wordpress has started to seem a little too heavy, especially for just writing posts. A textarea editor just can’t cut it when you’ve been using vim for a couple of years.

So I started looking for alternative blogging engines. After trying out a few Rails-powered engines, I eventually stumbled across Jekyll.

Jekyll is described as a blog-aware static site generator”, and I set about giving it a try. After a few minutes, I knew that Jekyll was what I’d been looking for. It lets me edit my site in a text editor of my choosing, generates static HTML files (no more heavy server-side tech), and sits perfectly in a Rails-esque git push; rake deploy workflow.

So after a few days migrating from Wordpress, this site is now 100% Jekyll powered: there is no back-end PHP; no database connection to worry about; and everything is versioned and backed-up through git. I’ve used a fork of Jekyll that lets me write templates in Haml rather than stock HTML.

There have been a few bumps along the way, but thanks to the growing Jekyll community and wiki, there are plenty of helpful guides and tricks available to solve any problems I’ve had. Here’s a quick overview of how I’ve switched to Jekyll.

Pure Text

Jekyll uses plain text for everything. Plain text is great - it’s small and portable; can be edited using your editor of choice, and is easily versionable using tools like git.

Deploying

With a suitable Rakefile, managing my site is as simple as writing a post and running rake deploy. Rather that git post-commit hooks, I’ve used rsync (as described in this post) to push files into my server’s blog directory.

Comments

Having no server-side scripting means that Jekyll sites have no way to submit and process comments. The Jekyll sites I’ve seen either don’t use comments, or implement them through a hosted service such as Disqus or IntenseDebate.

I like the conversation that comments bring, so I went with Disqus to manage this site’s comments. The process was fairly simple, and just involved adding a couple of


Date
7 February 2010