I started using Jekyll when I didn’t really know HTML, CSS, or Ruby - so I’ve had to learn a lot - but using Jekyll has been a great learning experience for all those languages.

I’ve tried to boil down steps to building a Jekyll site or blog to the minimal steps:

Install Jekyll

  • Mac/Linux/Unix:
    • Install dependencies:
    • Install Jekyll using RubyGems gem install jekyll (you may need to do sudo...)
    • If you’re having trouble installing, see the troubleshooting page.
  • Windows: Jekyll doesn’t officially support installation on Windows - follow these steps for a Windows install.

Make a site

The easiest way to get started is by using the command jekyll new SITENAME - let’s replace SITENAME with foobar for this example.

So we run jekyll new foobar, which gives us:

New jekyll site installed in /Users/scottmac2/foobar.

Go into that directory, and run

cd foobar
jekyll serve

Which gives you the files and directories:

--|- _config.yml
  |- _posts
  |- css
  |- _layouts
  |- _site
  |- index.html

Then point your browser to http://localhost:4000/. And you should see the following:

Write a new blog post

We’ll add a new file to the _posts folder.

layout: post
title:  My second post
date:   2013-11-20
categories: jekyll programming R

My second blog post!

Paste this in to a new file in the _posts folder, save as today’s date ({{ page.date | date: “%Y-%m-%d” }}) plus the post name, which gives us {{ page.date | date: “%Y-%m-%d” }}-second-post.md.


An obvious option given that Jekyll was built by Github, is to put it up on Github. Github has some instructions here. Here is my attempt at instructions:

  • If you don’t have a Github account already, create one - it’s free.
  • Set up Git. Github’s help for this: https://help.github.com/articles/set-up-git
  • Creat a new repo on Github, with the same name as your repo on your machine, in this case foobar.
  • Make your new blog directory foobar a git repo by doing git init within the repo.
  • Add you files to be tracked by git via git add --all
  • Commit your changes by git commit -am 'new blog files added'
  • Make a gh-pages branch by doing git branch gh-pages.
  • Add link for your repo on Github: git remote add origin https://github.com/<yourgithubusername>/foobar.git
  • Push to Github using git push -u origin master

Github gives you one repo that you can name <yourgithubusername>.github.io that will be viewable at the URL http://<yourgithubusername>.github.io. You can have your blog/website on the master branch, and you don’t need to create a gh-pages branch. But if you have your site in any other named repo, you will need the gh-pages branch. If you don’t use a <yourgithubusername>.github.io repo, your site will be viewable at <yourgithubusername>.github.io/<reponame>, in this case <yourgithubusername>.github.io/foobar.

Beginners take note: Instead of the command line, you could use a Git GUI, from Github (OSX, Windows), or others, e.g., GitBox.

Other info

That’s the basics of how to get started. Inevitably, you’ll run into problems with various dependencies. The Jekyll site has a lot of documntation now, so go there for help - and see a roundup of links below.

For inspiration, here are many examples of sites that use Jekyll: http://jekyllrb.com/docs/sites/. If you want to build off someone else’s work, find one that provides their code.

A roundup of links for building static sites with jekyll