Basic Jekyll GitHub Blog

- [5 mins read]

So I finally got round to sorting out the tech blog. I chose to use Jekyll rather than WordPress as I didn’t want to deal with constant updates, security vulnerabilities and backing up of the site. Jekyll generates a static site based on the posts created, but still has the advantages of a CMS like tags and categories. Posts are written using Markdown in a plain text file, making it very easy to do the formatting. You are able to generate the site locally before publishing / pushing it elsewhere. This is where one of the other benefits come in: GitHub Pages. You are able to create a repository with the format <GitHub Username> - in my case, that is GitHub itself uses Jekyll, and by creating this repository, it automatically creates the Jekyll site for you. No backup is required as your site is already under version control in GitHub!

Getting Started

First things first, need to have a decent look to the blog. Easiest solution was to grab a theme from Jekyll Themes, I decided to go for dbyll that you can preview here. After editing the required configs (hint: _config.yml), I previewed the outcome by running:

jekyll serve

High-fives all round… Celebrating mediocrity is fun ;) Moving along swiftly…

Publishing to GitHub

To be able to publish this as a GitHub Pages project, you will first need to create a repository in GitHub called <GitHub Username> The username has to match exactly what you have as your username in GitHub, mine is ‘cobusbernard’. After creating the repo, you will need to initialise the local Jekyll folder as a git repo, set the remote to point to the newly created GitHub project and push your first version:

git init
git remote set-url origin
git push -u origin master

Viola! Head on over to <GitHub Username> and you should see your site. Most of the themes ship with some sample posts in the _posts folder. I created a _drafts folder to keep these for reference while I get comfortable with the Markdown syntax.

Custom Domain

I recently bought the domain and wanted to point that to this blog. The GitHub instructions seemed simple enough. To enable this, first add a file to your repo called CNAME (all-caps is important!) in the root of your repository with the domain name as content:

Do not prefix with http://!

Go to your GitHub repo and look at the settings section - to do this, follow these instructions. GitHub -> Repository -> Settings (right sidebar) -> Scroll down to GitHub Pages. You should see your custom domain name with a checkmark and a green background if all went well.

Lastly, you need to point your domain to the GitHub site by adding a CNAME or a custom apex domain. In my case, I used the custom apex domain as I wanted just to be the URL for the blog and not something like This required having two A records (changing the existing one and adding another) for the GitHub IPs:

Once the DNS change has propogated (up to 24h), you will be able to access your blog / site from <GitHub Username>

That is it, you should now be ready to start adding some content.

Adding Content

Now let’s try out some code blocks. Currently I am doing most of my work in C#, so would like to see if Jekyll supports the text markup for this correctly:

public void Main(string args[])
    System.Console.Writeln("Hello World");

That worked! The markup is very easy, just wrap the code in {% raw %} {% highlight csharp %} {% endraw %} tags, i.e.

{% raw %}

{% highlight csharp %}
public void Main(string args[])
  System.Console.Writeln("Hello World");
{% endhighlight %}
{% endraw %}

Google Analytics

This will be a completely new area for me as I know what analytics do, but have never worked with them before. The easiest way to get going is to create an account on Google Analytics, set up a site and stick the chunk of Javascript they give you into the page. To do this cleanly, create a new file in _includes/google_analytics.html that will contain the following:

  (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o),

  ga('create', '<tracking code>', '<site name>');
  ga('send', 'pageview');


This needs to be added to all the pages by adding the following line to _includes/default.html:

{% include google_analytics.html %}


One of the major pain points for me on my almost non-existent blog were the number of spam comments I had to delete. I installed some plugins to deal with it, but some still slipped through. There were even some cases where my WordPress site was high-jacked due to some weird comment being added. To avoid this, use Disqus - create an account and set up your first site. Choose the Universal code option at the end and they will provide you with a chunk of Javascript to paste in. As with the Google Analytics, we don’t want to just dump this into the file, but rather use another include. Create a file _includes/comments.html and add the Javascript into it:

<div id="disqus_thread"></div>
<script type="text/javascript">
var disqus_shortname = '<disqus forum name>'; // required: replace example with your forum shortname
(function() {
  var dsq = document.createElement('script'); dsq.type = 'text/javascript'; dsq.async = true;
  dsq.src = '//' + disqus_shortname + '';
  (document.getElementsByTagName('head')[0] || document.getElementsByTagName('body')[0]).appendChild(dsq);
<noscript>Please enable JavaScript to view the <a href="">comments powered by Disqus.</a></noscript>

To add the this to the page layout, edit the default.html page to include it above the footer by adding in:

include comments.html

This will display the comments on all pages. To add the ability to exclude comments from certain posts, add a variable at the top of the specific post with:

exclude_comments: true

Also wrap the _comments.html content with:

{% raw %}
{% if page.exclude_comments == false %}
{% endif %}
{% endraw %}

When exclude_comments is set to true, the Disqus comment section will not be displayed.

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