Lions and tigers and Jekylls, oh my!
This is the first post in a blog that is the result of some experimentation into methods of creating and maintaining simple blogs. This experience started with some of the mainstream blogging platforms such as Wordpress and Tumblr, continued into exploration into the open-source realm of the Ghost blogging platform, and finally settled on Jekyll/Github Pages.
What I was looking for
- Free/really cheap hosting without ads
- Integration with Github
- Some, but not a ton of coding
- Ability to use some elements from Bootstrap or other mainstream frameworks
Things I had to consider about myself
- I have a background in design, but I'm not a designer
- I only have a basic working knowledge of Ruby and PHP
- I want to have a lot of control over the layout and functionality
- I'm ultimately lazy about writing blog content and it's going to have to be easy/fun to post
Benefits of Jekyll
- It is written in Ruby, but you don't actually need to know Ruby to use it
- Github pages offers free-hosting and uses Jekyll to generate static web pages
- It's ridiculously simple to setup a development environment
- Github pages has a bunch of basic themes that you can use for a decent-looking place to start
- The official Jekyll web site looks great and has a ton of documentation
- I was able to quickly find a lot of great examples of cool open-source blogs on Github and postings from other people talking in detail about how they worked on their blogs, like Eric Jones
Postifying your Github page
The Github pages by default uses Jekyll, so getting your basic theme page ready for blog posts is really easy:
- Install Jekyll (and Ruby if you don't have it already) using these Instructions or the quickstart
- Add the additional folders to support blog posting
- Add some posts (name format is really important here), and an index to your posts on one of your pages
Even after including time to browse through the Jekyll documentation, setting up this basic blogging structure should only take a tech-savvy person less than an hour.
Grunts like a Jekyll
The way forward
As far as the look and feel of the blog, my very non-ambitious plan is to incorporate Twitter Bootstrap into Jekyll templates. However, to get this started, I just created the most basic functioning blog that doesn't look awful. The very basic scaffolding is in place for npm and bower package management, and grunt tasks for Less compilation and some other cleanup. From this point, I've got to convert the css to Less, integrate Bootstrap with Bower, and finally add some personality in the way of code and graphics. This is likely just be the first phase of an ongoing project to keep improving this blog with newer and better tools that I'm trying out. It may also just be the temporary tinkering with Jekyll and may be re-written in a few months.
See future posts for updates on the journey...