Making of this blog using Jekyll & Pixyll

This is my first attempt to static sites. To be honest, Jekyll is quite impressive. Using jekyll and few other community contribution, I was able to build and host this awesome site (isn’t it?) completely for free. I am goning to descibe how I did it in this post.

Step-1: Setting up GitHub

Once I have decided to use jekyll, it opens up lot of options for me. One of them is, hosting in GitHub Pages. This takes care of the hosting problem. And, reliablity? How reliable is GitHub? You ask yourself. Now, using the GitHub Pages service for hosting is quite easy. You can find a lot more detail in the website. However, I am only going to describe what is needed to a blog site such as this.

Let’s say your github user name is username. All you need to do is create a repository in GitHub with the name Now, if you publish your html files with resources (css, images, js, etc.) in a branch named gh-pages in to this repository, you can actually browse site using the url It is as simple as that.

Now, you may realize that all you have to do is build your static site with jekyll and publish it to the repository. It is as simple as that. However, I did not stop there. I did not event want to use jekyll to build my site and then push it. I used GitHub to build my site for me. How? even simpler. If you push your jekyll sources (not the compiled _site contents) in to the master branch of you the repository, GitHub will automatically generate the site for you and it will be accessible using the same url:

This give’s you flexibility like editing/creating a markdown file from your mobile and publish it as a blog post. All you need to do is push to the gitHub repository. Everything else is taken care of by GitHub Pages. However, this flexibility comes with a price. That is, you cannot use custom jekyll plugins in your jekyll site, other than the very few plugins listed and trusted by GitHub Pages. Well, I am going to overlook that for now until I need it.

By now, I assume you have already created a repository named in GitHub (of course, replacing username with your own username). Clone it with in your computer. You will automatically have a remote source set for you named origin. Make sure your repository does not contain anything at this point. This will save you a lot of merging issues later.

Step-2: Setting up theme

Although jekyll is an excellent static site generator/ blog engine, I do not quite like the default theme/ UI design it give to the site. Luckily, it is very easy to change the theme. Jekyll has completely separated the concept of content and decoration- you can literally switch your theme (or, create a new one) any time without even touching your content. There are lot of themes available online for jekyll. They come in either as a zipped folder, or they simply are a git repository in GitHub. For our purpose, we will use the git repository ones. Not only because hosting your theme in GitHub is cool, it makes updating the theme a lot easier later. You can find decent collection of jekyll themes in and this jekyll wiki page. To me, Pixyll was the coolest one when I was looking for themes (and, it still is). It is hosted in github as well.

What I did first is forked the pixyll repository. So, I ended up with a repository like Then in my computer, I went to the repo directory and added forked pixyll github repository url as another remote source named theme. To do that, you need to open your favorite command shell in the directory in your computer and type the following:

git remote add theme

Then, it is as simple as getting the theme and publishing in your blog. However, I would suggest that you create a local branch for the theme as well. Just type the following:

git checkout -b theme
git pull theme master
git checkout master
git merge theme

Well, whether everything goes well or not depends on the initial condition of your repository. You may have some merge conflicts when you pull into your theme branch, or merge with your master branch. However, it should be pretty easy to resolve those conflict, as you may not have any valuable content in your repository. So, wisest thing to do would be simply take whatever comes from your theme repository in github.

Step-3: Configuring and Publishing

Once you have completed previous steps, it is time for you to take a look in to what you’ve got in the repo. First thing to look at is the _config.yml located in the root. The config file is self explaining and pretty easy to modify. That’s all there is to configuration. Pretty easy!

Next thing is modifying the theme contents. You may find some files that you will want to modify the contents of for your personal blog. A list of such files may include, but limited to:

  • _includes/footer.html
  • _includes/navigation.html
  • … I am sure you can find other places to edit contents in.

Once you are satisfied with you changes, you can also write post. Posts are actually located within _posts directory. There should be few sample posts from Pixyll- which will help you understand how your post structure should be. There are just few basic header entries for jekyll on top of the post, then it’s all up to your markdown skills. By the way, you can still write pure html in a post, although I can never think of any good reason behind that. Regardless of whichever way you write your blog posts, please give attention to the file name. Your file name must be in the YYYY-MM-DD-<permalink>.<extension> format where-

  • YYYY is the 4-digit year of your writing
  • MM is the 2-digit month of your writing
  • DD is the 2-digit day of your writing
  • <permalink> is the permanent link to your post and must match with the permalink section mentioned in your post header. By the way, you post header should have a leading and trailling slash (/) before and after the permalink (at least, at the time of writing this post)
  • <extension> is the extension of your file and can be any of
    • md
    • markdown
    • html

One last step as clean-up, though the posts included by pixyll in the _posts directory are very helpful as tutorials, you may not want them to be in your blog. But, if you still want to keep them, not publishing as blog posts, create a directory named _draft in your root folder (if it wasn’t already there) and put the posts in it. And yes, you have guessed correctly, _draft is treated by jekyll as draft posts that you are not done writing yet and are not published as regular posts.

Well, I think that’s all there is to know about jekyll and pixyll. You can always learn more from their websites directly. However, while you are reading this post, you may have noticed that my website contains tag and archive features- which are not directly supported by pixyll and jekyll. There are lot of plugins to provide you features like “tag”, “archive”, “tags cloud”, etc. features. Unfortunately, you cannot use all those cool plugins when you are using GitHub Pages building your jekyll site for you. How I got around this problem will be covered in another post. Till then, happy (static) blogging. :)