Jekyll and GitHub Pages

For a long time I’ve been putting off trying out something entirely new when it comes to programming. I think it’s safe to say that I’ve become very comfortable over the past two years since starting my job as a C# developer. I’ve learned everything I know about the language in that time—along with increasing my CSS and jQuery proficiency and gaining a lot of knowledge on MSSQL, Umbraco and LINQ to SQL.

But sometimes it just doesn’t feel like enough!

Recently I’ve been doing some interesting things integrating Lync 2013, Exchange 2010 and Active Directory into our corporate intranet at work, which I think has sparked my interest in trying out something new. I considered dabbling in Android apps, or something like node.js but I chickened out and went with something that I thought would be a lot easier. And it turns out it is!

Getting this Jekyll site set up and running on GitHub Pages was a lot quicker than I had first anticipated. For those of you unaware:

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”.

The initial set up (to get it running on localhost before pushing to GitHub) is simple enough, and the Jekyll Bootstrap site has an easy-to-follow guide. It only took a few steps for me:

  1. Install Ruby for Windows and the Development Kit
  2. Run gem install jekyll to install the Jekyll Ruby gem
  3. Fork the Jekyll Bootstrap repo on GitHub as
  4. Clone the repo locally
  5. Run jekyll serve in the local directory
  6. Visit localhost:4000
  7. Success!

Once this is done, whenever you make changes locally and push the repo to GitHub it’ll regenerate the site in a matter of minutes. There are plenty of options out there for themes, especially since Jekyll Bootstrap supports theme templating. The default theme is a good starting point, but I love the ghminimal theme, with a few personal tweaks made for legibility on copy.

Jekyll really is quite a “geeky” way to get a website set up. It requires some command line work, and posts and pages get written in Markdown, but if you want something that’s easy to maintain for a personal site I’d recommend it. Plus, it’s free to host on GitHub Pages!

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