Visually Enforced

a blog by Gaston Sanchez

Moving to Jekyll

Posted on December 29, 2013

After two weeks of hacking and consulting forums, tutorials and posts, I’m launching my new jekyll-powered website.

Goodbye Google sites and wordpress

So far I had been using google sites to host my personal website, and wordpress for blogging.

Both google sites and wordpress allow you to have a free website/weblog in a very accessible way. They both have basic themes and simple gui’s that don’t require you to program a single line of code… which is really good if you are an illiterate web programmer like me. I even recommend them to my students and colleagues to start having an online presence besides the typical social network profile.

What I liked the most about google sites is that all my google products (presentations, docs, tables, drive, plus, picasa, youtube, etc) could be integrated in a painless way. In addition, the learning curve was very mellow and I gained enough confidence to start playing with html format and other less basic options. However, as I started to learn more about html and css, I felt very limited with the provided options of google sites. That was the main reason why I started to look for other more flexible alternatives.

On the wordpress side, I think it is as good as google sites if you want to have a basic weblog. Of course you can also install the more advanced and customizable version, but that requires you to spend more time learning the nitty gritty stuff.

What I learned so far is that having two sites is not the most brilliant idea. It wasn’t that terrible but my blog was cannibalizing my site. And another drawback was that I had to maintain two intertwined products. So the obvious question was: Why not having everything in one single place?

Why Jekyll?

I don’t remember when was the first time I heard about jekyll. I even tried it long time ago but I got a bit scared with all the options and files that I needed to modify in order to have a running static stie.

However, the more jekyll-based sites I saw, the more I felt drawn to give it one more try. Among several reasons, these are the ones I felt more attracted to (and intrigued by):

Jekyll Tutorials

I won’t lie to you: it wasn’t easy for me to start with jekyll… but it wasn’t impossible either. It required a good dosis of patience, and a lot of hours a day looking for information, tutorials, forums, and examples on how to build a website with jekyll. It also required me a lot of experimenting, iterations, and going through a couple of very frustrating moments wondering what was wrong when something didn’t work as expected (although this happens to me every time I’m learning something new).

The good news is that you can have a basic jekyll default template in an almost immediate way. This template is the one used by Tom Preston-Werner. If you like this option, then you are ready to go. However, I bet you will want to have a different design. In case you need some inspiration there is a list of Jekyll-powered blogs that you can take a look at. I strongly encourage you to check them since you also have access to their source code.

Here’s a short list of tutorials I found useful (of course, you can find many more links out there and even some youtube videos)

Good to know

It’s hard to give a list of all the things you’ll need to get started with jekyll. It all depends on your experience building and developing weblogs, and how adventurous you feel to try new things. For those like me with a limited background here is my checklist of some concepts and tools to know about:

Published in categories opinion  Tagged with jekyll  blog  github