Jekyll: what’s that again?

If you’re just joining us (welcome!), you might not be familiar with the Jekyll static website generation engine. In its own words:

Jekyll is a simple, blog-aware, static site generator. It takes a template directory containing raw text files in various formats, runs it through a converter (like Markdown) and our Liquid renderer, and spits out a complete, ready-to-publish static website suitable for serving with your favorite web server. Jekyll also happens to be the engine behind GitHub Pages, which means you can use Jekyll to host your project’s page, blog, or website from GitHub’s servers for free.

My recent adventures have involved setting up my personal GitHub page and getting the Jekyll development environment set up on my Windows laptop. Now that that’s mostly sorted, we’re moving on to the front-end stuff.

The blessing and curse of Jekyll

Jekyll can be a bit two-faced (much like its literary namesake eponym), in that one of the biggest benefits to Jekyll is also a huge drawback, and that is the fact that it’s so blank… open… unfettered… there are a multitude of different ways to configure and use it!

Which means there are a multitude of different problems that can happen, and a multitude of different solutions, and it can be really, really hard to find a solution that works for your unique usecase. (Assuming you find a solution at all…)

To that end, I’m compiling-as-I-go a list of tips, tricks, solutions, and best practices that I’ve found to work for me. (YMMV)

Without further ado…

The good stuff

Getting Disqus comments working

Since Jekyll serves up static webpages, one must use third-party services for any dynamic content such as user comments. Disqus is one such service, and here’s the steps I followed to get Disqus comments on my posts.

Using _data for things like social media

Following the ‘DRY’ development principle, it makes the most sense to define anything – especially a collection of data – only once, and utilize a for loop to display it as needed. This works really well for including a series of linked social media icons on your Jekyll site.

Setting per-post (or per-page) custom CSS

Helps you manage your CSS styles (and JS files) so that only the posts that need’em, get’em.

That’s all for now…

Check back later – I plan to add to this list as I find more useful tidbits.

Also check out my collection of Bookmarks for more valuable resources!

Do you have a tip or trick you’d like to share? Leave your advice for your fellow Jekyll users in the comments below! :)