Up and Running With Jekyll

After experimenting with a few blogging platforms, I’ve decided to switch to Jekyll.


What is Jekyll?

The official Jekyll website describes Jekyll as a simple, blog-aware, static site generator.

Jekyll lets me write posts in a simple markup language called Markdown. When I’m finished writing, Jekyll uses my template files to generate static HTML files.

Jekyll lets me focus on what's important: writing.

If you’d like to read more, the creator, Tom Preston-Werner,1 wrote a blog post that describes Jekyll in greater detail. He also goes over why Jekyll was created.


Why Jekyll?

I don’t require much from a blogging platform. My main criteria:

  • The process of adding content needs to be frictionless
  • The site needs to look clean and readable
  • The content needs to be under my control

Jekyll fulfills all of these requirements. Not only can I choose the Markdown editor I use to write posts, I can host my blog anywhere because it generates static HTML files. No need to install Node.js, Rails, or any other framework.

Neither of these things are possible with Ghost2, the last platform I experimented with.


First Impressions

Installing

Installing Jekyll was as easy as downloading the gem and running a command. I was up and running with a sample page in 30 seconds.

Installation

Configuring

I’m using a modified version of the Poole foundation, created by @mdo, the creator of Bootstrap. Poole provides a great starting point for Jekyll setups, including mobile-friendly design.

Writing

I started writing with Mou, a fantastic (and free) Markdown editor. So far, the only problem I’ve found with Mou is that it doesn’t support YAML Front-Matter.

Mou

I’ve also experimented with iA Writer. It’s not very customizable, but it has sensible defaults. It feels a little more polished than Mou, but I’m not sure it’s worth the $10 price tag.

iA Writer

Initially, I tried using Textmate and Sublime Text 2 to edit my posts, but they didn’t feel as comfortable. I might switch over if I can find some better plugins.


Publishing

Publishing with Jekyll is as easy as copying your _site directory over to your hosting provider. Doesn’t get much easier than that!


Conclusion

Jekyll is a fantastic blogging platform. I’m going to continue using it for this blog and I’m excited to see how the platform evolves!


1. Cool side note: Tom Preston-Werner goes over the tools he uses in an interview on The Setup, a website that interviews professionals about their work process. His dream setup involves working in a massive egg-shaped room!

2. OK, I guess you could use any editor with Ghost, but there would be a lot of cutting-and-pasting involved.