👽 Lee Tusman

← Nosebook 👃📓

Jekyll code snippets and links

04 Feb 2018

Eight-minute read

This post was updated 12-31-2019.

About Jekyll, the framework I’m using to publish this site

This Nosebook is technically a sub-site currently of my main website. It is built with Jekyll, a framework for creating websites that allow pages to be added over time, like a blog or wiki.

Jekyll is a static site generator. Each time you create a new file like a blogpost and save and run Jekyll it takes that page, applies a template to it, and then pops out all of the code you need to publish your site using your predefined templates. In contrast, database-driven sites use Javascript and query a server to find the right page to load and serve when someone is looking at your website. Jekyll creates these pages in advance and converts to simple HTML so pages load much faster and don’t have the same kinds of security problems that a database-type system may have.

Jekyll aims to be beginner-friendly, and it is if you want to do something simple, but it actually allows quite complex customization. I am running Jekyll on GitHub, using a custom domain, in a subdomain repository. I can edit my files online on GitHub, on my phone, on my computer with any editing software or in the Terminal. I like this flexibility.

To get started with Jekyll, you have to understand how it works. And you probably will have to fiddle with a few things to understand how to add a custom domain or change styling or other defaults.

New posts (aka blog posts or articles) are put into a _posts folder. Their file name needs to be YYYY-MM-DD-file-name.md New website pages can be put in the home directory. Your posts need to be written in simple Markdown and contain a snippet called front matter at the top. This section specifies a page template to use when converting it to HTML, as well as the title, keywords and the date. Here is this post’s markdown file with front matter.

Below I have placed lots of code snippets. These are not general Jekyll snippets. These are specific to my own needs, to be referred to when I am trying to remember how to do something. These snippets have been collected from around the internet. The Jekyll documentation is fine and extensive but does not have a comprehensive section with info on special notes and code you need if you are hosting on a custom domain with a subdomain. There are a few tricks you need to know relating to file paths as a result of hosting my site on GitHub. The below snippets may be useful but are otherwise unorganized. If you just want to get started with Jekyll you should read this Quickstart guide instead.

Of note, Jekyll’s templates are written in Liquid, an open-source templating language developed by Shopify. I don’t know why they picked this, but it’s what we’re stuck with. It’s like a minimal extra layout programming language. One challenge I’ve found is that it can be difficult to integrate blocks of instructional code as well as Liquid template snippets in the same file. I have had to do various workarounds because of this.

Collected code snippets for use in editing this wiki

Link to Jekyll Documentation


Typical Workflow

  1. Create a new file in the _posts folder with naming scheme YYYY-MM-DD-file-name.md.
  2. Copy over the front matter below and change the name, date and keywords.
  3. Write the rest of the post. Use the below snippets for figuring out how to add images, links, etc on my subdomain.
  4. Save.
  5. In the project repository folder (for me that’s nosebook ) run jekyll serve --baseurl ''. I need to do this because I’m hosting on my own web domain. If you’re just hosting on GitHub without a custom domain, you can just type jekyll serve Make sure you don’t get an error. If so, it will tell you where you have a typo in your code, so go fix it, then run it again.
  6. Go to localhost:4000 in my web browser and make sure everything looks fine. If not, edit my file again and save. By leaving the jekyll serve running it will continously look for me saving my post files and rebuild the templated pages so that all I need to do is edit a post, then save, then reload in the browser to see the changes.
  7. Everything looks good? Let’s publish to our website. Add the file in git. Commit it. Push it to the repository. That’s it. See below example.
git add _posts/2018-02-20-file-name.md
git commit -m "added 2018-02-20-file-name.md"
git push

What’s happening behind the scenes? What does Jekyll do?

You write a post, or you change your site’s stylesheet, or you add a page, or something else like this.

You run Jekyll, either with jekyll serve or other options (see below).

Behind the scenes the Jekyll software finds your templating, applies them to your posts and pages with settings from your configuration file and builds a website, dropping it into the _site folder.

You can them ftp, upload or otherwise place this website online somewhere.

Or if you are using GitHub pages to host a site for free: you simply add, commit and push your post, page, etc to GitHub and it builds and hosts it there. Each time you add a post or make a change and run Jekyll it will simply add on your post or make any other changes you’ve made.

Okay, so let’s set this up.

Set it once and forget it: url structure

  • I use a custom domain on my github username page: i.e. github.lee2sman.io re-routes to leetusman.com
  • This messes up URL and paths for pages, relative links and CSS path on my repo for this jekyll site

To fix the URL file structure

  1. Open _config.yml and set baseurl to /project-name which here is nosebook
  2. When referencing CSS files in your _layouts directory , use /nosebookpath/to/css which for me looks like <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="/nosebook/css/main.css">
  3. For links from pages, use this same form. Example, for my link to home <a href=”{{ site.baseurl }}/”>Home</a>
  4. For internal links or permalinks, format is exactly this: {{ site.baseurl }}{{ post.url }}

Example Front Matter

Every post in your blog needs to have front matter at the top. It’s just a few lines. It tells Jekyll what layout template to use to build the html page from your post (which you write in Markdown, got that?).

In the front matter you can set what template to use with layout: template-name. There needs to be a corresponding template with that name in the _layouts folder.

layout: post
title:  "Jekyll code snippets and links"
date:   2018-02-04 12:11:05 -0800
categories: programming

Getting the right URL path to images on a custom domain

For use in Markdown when using a custom domain for your username repo and you have a separate project repo with Jekyll on GitHub pages. Note: this information is correct for anything starting from Jekyll version 3.3

![alt text]]({{“/path/to/image.jpg” | absolute_url}})

Preview your site before publishing it to the web

After you’ve written a blog post in Markdown, with front matter at the top, and you’ve saved it inside your _posts folder it’s now time to preview it in your own browser.

Always do your build in the directory’s root folder, not in your _posts folder.

Here I’ll explain the proper jekyll serve command if you have your own custom domain set up. If you are not using baseurl (the proper way to specify a subdomain of your website) then you don’t need to do this. This is just so the local serve will render your site properly in the browser so you can check it out before deploying.

jekyll serve --baseurl ''

If you don’t have a custom website configured in your _config.yaml you’re going to deploy to then you can just do the simpler jekyll serve

Making a direct URL for a post

Instead of the default posted /year/month/day/title.html you can add a line to the frontmatter to get a direct URL link.

permalink: title.html

Where to create Pages (not Posts)

For example, this wiki has an about.html which is a page, not a post!.

Very simple!

2 options:

  1. Place named HTML or Markdown files for each page in your site’s root folder.
  2. Place pages inside folders and subfolders named whatever you want

When Jekyll runs it will place the page in the root of the _site folder or in a subfolder depending on whether you’ve placed into a subfolder or not. The permalinks will mirror the subfolder structure.

Internal links to other posts

Info here

  • useful in case I change my domain/permalinks

More documentation of Categories

Categories doc page

Things to explore


I learned how to add a medium-style average reading time to the top of every post in the Liquid templating language of Jekyll from this tutorial by David Putney.