19 March 2017

A quick walthrough of the most basic commands for installing and “developing” with Jekyll.


You need to have Ruby installed and configured properly on your system, and you need to be somewhat comfortable firing up a Terminal window, Windows CMD, Bash, or whatever flavor you prefer.

For installing and configuring Ruby on Windows, check my other post Ruby on Windows, and follow the steps described, then come back to this post.

In case of Mac OS X, there’re multiple ways; but by far the easiest, and the one I choose, is to simply install Apple Xcode, as this will also install a set of command line dev tools, Ruby being one of them.

Installing Jekyll

Installing Jekyll is really super simple. Simply enter gem install jekyll, and wait for it to finish.

After this you might want to install a series of other gems, depending on how you want to build and package your site.

If you’re writing a blog like this one, you might want to install Octopress, and for that, simply enter gem install octopress, and after that, bootstrap your install.

You might want to use Bundler as part of your deployment process, and for that, simply enter gem install bundler, and go from there.

I’m sure that by now you’ve gotten the hang of installing gems.

Testing a Jekyll site

For testing your site locally, jekyll can compile it for your and serve it up for testing in a browser, using it’s built-in lightweight, and fairly simple, http-stack. To do this, simply open a shell, cd to the folder your project lives in, type jekyll serve and hit Enter.

Now, to prevent you from having to stopping and starting the process each time you change something, the debugging server has a watcher built-in. To utilize that, type jekyll serve -w instead, and hit Enter. Now you’ll see the process writing output to your Terminal window, each time you touch a file in your Jekyll directory. And the pages served are being updated accordingly.

Another useful CLI argument is --drafts which, you guessed it, includes the posts that currently sits in your _drafts folder, to see how your working progress looks like. The full command for debugging will then be jekyll serve -w --drafts.

And that’s it really, you now know the basics of Jekyll CLI and debugging. Naturally you can find way more eahaustive articles elsewhere, but this wasn’t intended to be a complete tutorial, merely a quick start guide.