Why we need Jekyll?
Many of you should have known or have used some popular blogging platforms like Wordpress or Blogspot. They are all great platforms that have been developed for a long time and have a big community. However, they also have some disadvantages.
- Have you ever found that Wordpress or Blogspot too complex and too difficult to backup and restore?
- Have you ever encountered the problem when you want to display a piece of programming code in Wordpress, Blogspot,…?
- Have you ever feel annoyed by the useless code that their WYSIWYG editors generate? And to fix them you have to edit the markup manually, which is very complicated for us to focus on the main content.
- Have you ever noticed that they took a long time to load the pages?
- And so on…
If you feel annoyed with these problems, it’s time for you to find another better solution.
What is Jekyll?
Jekyll is a parsing engine bundled as a ruby gem used to build static websites from dynamic components such as templates, partials, liquid code, markdown, etc. Jekyll is known as “a simple, blog aware, static site generator”.
So what Jekyll does is just to parse your content, mainly written in markdown text, to a static website. It’s also the engine used behind the Github pages.
Advantages of Jekyll
It’s static and It’s fast
As I mentioned before, what Jekyll does is to parse your markdown content to static html pages. Since it’s static, it’s really fast. Unlike the other dynamic platforms, everytime you load the pages, Jekyll server does nothing but returns you a static html page.
It’s static but it doesn’t mean that it does not have the features like Wordpress or Blogspot. Jekyll has all those blogging features including posts, commenting system, tagging, archive,…
Since Jekyll is the engine used behind Github, you can have your blog deployed on Github with no cost. You can even buy your own domain and follow the instruction on Github to setup Github to host your Jekyll blog with that domain. Moreover, you can set up your own Jekyll server on your own computer or on your VPS,…
Back to the problem I have discussed above, I hate WYSIWYG editors because they generate too much unused markup code and even sometimes can break my content display. To fix it, I have to manually edit the markup code, which is extremely painful when I have a long post. It makes me feel difficult to concentrate on my main content.
Jekyll is different. It lets you use markdown in your posts and then generate the html pages from the markdown code. Markdown concentrates on the content not the display like markup. It can be displayed even in plain text and the readers still can understand and easy focus on what the content is. Moreover, it’s very easy for you to get used to.
Who are we? We are IT guys so that Code sharing is an essential part of our life. We all know that Github handle this task very well and so do Jekyll. It has the built-in support for Pygments code highlighting system. After some simple configurations (you can find it on Google or contact me), this is the result I have for a piece of js code
Really beautiful, isn’t it? What you need to do is just as simple as copy and paste the code. Jekyll will keep the format of the code and highlight it for you. If you use markup to write this, it’s really a big problem for you to deal with the tabs and spaces as well as the line breaks.
This is the most important feature of Jekyll. I changed to Jekyll mainly because of this.
Jekyll uses no database. The website is just a collection of text files so that it’s extremely easy to backup and manage. You don’t have to worry about backing up and restoring the site code, theme, posts, database,… if you have done anything wrong. Since they are all text files so you can use git to manage all the code, themes as well as posts and pages. It also help you publish websites from terminal by typing the push command. If you use Github as the website hosting, it’s even more convinence because Github itself uses git.
If you use a powerful text editor, such as emacs, you can find many packages that help you in managing code version with git in a very convenience and elegant way (magit in my case).
Jekyll has a growing community. You can find many plugins that help you extend your Jekyll blog ability like emoticon, video embedding,…
Jekyll Bootstrap Homepage: http://jekyllbootstrap.com/
Ruhoh (another static blog generator): http://ruhoh.com/
Octopress (another framework based on Jekyll): http://octopress.org/
Markdown in Jekyll: https://github.com/adam-p/markdown-here/wiki/Markdown-Cheatsheet#wiki-code
Sites built with Jekyll: https://github.com/mojombo/jekyll/wiki/Sites