Starting Again with Jekyll


I recently decided to re-start my blog by giving it a new look and describing the upgrade process as I updated Jekyll.

Jekyll

I originally started my blog in 2013. In those days, I was writing full-time ruby and doing a bit of research to get a blog started yielded a few examples on how to achieve this with Rails. I didn’t want to build and manage my own application for a simple blog. Looking at a few alternatives I ran into Jekyll, a simple site generator that worked well with GitHub Pages, and at the time Jekyll was at a stable 1.0 version. Jumping forward to 2015, I made some time to work on my blog, Jekyll had gone through many changes and had reached version 2.5 as of this post.

The first step was to consider wether I should start over with the new version or upgrade my old blog to the newer version. To see what had changed, I went through a quick upgrade of my blog, but for simplicity’s sake I ended up starting from scratch.

Getting Started

First step was to install jekyll

$ gem install jekyll

Using Jekyll is very straight forward and allows for a highly customizable blog development experience. It uses liquid templates in the HTML, allows writing posts the Markdown of your choice, and allows you to create layouts and templates for reusability. These are just some of Jekyll’s strong points and I highly suggest taking a look at their documentation.

Design..or not

I am not a great designer by any means, and I spend most of my time thinking about what a good design would look like rather than coding/writting. So rather than repeating the same mistake from 2 years ago, I decided to just pick a simple looking template and roll with it. I chose Pixyll as my template. I simply backed up my original blog under a _backup folder in my project and cloned pixyll code into my project.

From there, it was simply updating a few configuration values in _config.yml file and started molding the page to my desire.

Closing Note

When I initially started the blog, I focused so much time on coming up with a good design and making sure the implementation was “perfect” that I ended up getting burned out with the blog and never writting posts. I decided this time that I should focus more on writting good content for things that mattered to me and hopefully help others not make the same mistakes I made.

Choosing Jekyll was a good move on my end as it allowed to not have to deal with implementing my own blogging solution while still maintaining a high level of flexibility. The next good move, was to learn from my last mistake and go with a simple template that made me happy while still allowing me to write the content I wanted to write. Looking forward, I will be writting about my life in general and about those “aha!” moments I run into on a daily basis during development.

Remember, focus on what matters for what you’re trying to achieve and don’t let past mistakes stop you from moving forward.

Update

I ran into an issue while deploying the newer version of my blog. Github Pages only supports jekyll v2.4.0 while my blog was being rendered with 2.5.3. The fix was to add gem 'github-pages' to my Gemfile and run bundle update. This ensured that GitHub would use the correct version of jekyll allowing my blog to work correctly.