Learning From and Using Jekyll

March 24 2013

It’s been about two and a half months since I launched my new site using Jekyll, a static-site generator after spending about a month redesigning it.

I won’t show how to install Jekyll; there are plenty of posts that will explain it better than me (although, I will say this post helped me get the necessary Ruby bits installed), however, I would like to share things I’ve learned, apart from simply how to use Jekyll.

Ruby on Rails

I’m still early in the game when it comes to Ruby on Rails, but I was able to install it and get an application running locally. The next step is to think of an idea for app and build a prototype to learn more about this framework.

Git

I’ve been familiar with Git for a while, but the redesign of this site has enforced discipline when it comes to creating branches, merging, and valuable commit messages. Also, rather than using a Git GUI to do all the commands, I’ve learned how to use Terminal, which bring me to my next item…

Command-Line Interface (CLI)

Learning how to use Git, change directories, copy items, move items, and SSH has sped up my workflow. No more learning a new interface in new software to do simple commands. Just type git push” and it’s done. Plus, I get to feel all hackery.

Markdown

Before learning Markdown, I didn’t understand why anyone would use it. Why not just write plain HTML? After using it for a few posts, I soon realized it was to focus on writing, rather than the HTML. With Markdown I’m quickly able to write a post in Sublime Text (with MarkdownEditing), Jekyll compiles it automatically, and I upload the new stuff. No writing loads of HTML for a simple blog post.

Liquid

While Jekyll is the static-site generator, Liquid is the markup language for creating templates with HTML. The team at Shopify developed it as the templating system behind stores’ themes, and now Jekyll, as well as BigCartel, Zendesk, and possibly others, use it for templating.

Some of this stuff has more of a learning curve than others, but with persistence, it can be learned without being a hardcore developer. If you’re the tinkering/​hacking type, you’ll love using Jekyll and learning all its supporting bits. Have fun!