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!