What is Jekyll and why am I using it?

So I put up a new site and thought I would share a bit about it. First, it may appear to be powered by some type of CMS such as Wordpress (blech!!!) or Drupal (bloated!) but it’s actually powered by Jekyll. Jekyll is a “simple, blog-aware, static site generator.” Bascially it creates hard-coded html files and has no database. The big CMS’s use a MySQL database to store information which makes them prone to hacking. Static html files are so much more secure and there is no need for security updates to plugins, modules, etc. Plus pages load ridiculously fast!

This site is hosted on github pages 100% free. I can write posts via command line and push via git. There is also a useful desktop application for macOS and Windows.

How concerts are posted

I use Jekyll’s collections for a concert post. In the root directory I added a folder called _concerts which holds my concert files. In my _config.yml I added some settings for this collection:

  output: true
  permalink: /:collection/:year/:month/:day/:title/

Setting output: true tells Jekyll to create individual posts for each concert. I also added some default YAML front matter for the concert with the following:

  - scope:
      path: ""
      type: concerts
      layout: concert
      breadcrumb: concerts
       background: lightbg1.png

In Jekyll, posts are written in Markdown. Theming and layouts are done with liquid which is incredibly easy, intuitive and fun to use! Let’s say I want to make a concert post, I’ll use this Hush Point post as an example. I make a file named yyyy-mm-dd-title in this case it was named 2016-11-24-hush-point. This naming convention is strict and important. I use the date that in front of the name as the date of the concert. In normal posts, this would be the date the post was published, but in the concert post, this is the date of the concert.

I then declare some values in the YAML front matter as data to be called all over the site and on the actual post via liquid. I already set defaults in the _config.yml so I don’t have to declare them every time I create a concert post. In the hush point post, here is what is written:

title: Hush Point at Cornelia St Cafe
description: Hush Point plays Cornelia St Cafe Nov 24, 2017
time: 9pm and 10:30pm
 feature: hushpoint-locksmith.jpg
 background: bg10.png
 credit: Zachariah Kobrinsky
 creditlink: http://zachariahkobrinsky.com

So in this front matter, I am

  • setting a custom title
  • writing a short decription that will show up in metadata and will show up in social shares
  • concert time(s)
  • main image
  • photo credit
  • overriding the page background that was set in config.yml

An important thing to note is that by default, future posts will not be published unless you change this setting in your _config.yml with:

future: true