I’m going to be Hangout-ing with several folks later this week to talk about how to use Github and Jekyll in order to own your own domain. (This is how I run both Hack Education and this site, along with all my various projects.) I promised I’d give some pre-Hangout instructions, and I figured I’d blog them briefly here so others can follow along at home.
Wait. What is Jekyll? Why Github? WTF?
So here’s the thing. As a writer who works online, I’m quite adept at HTML. I’ve made the switch to Markdown too because I can focus on my words and not the markup. I’ve blogged for almost a decade now; I’ve hosted my own sites for over five years. But I’ve never really mastered the database and servers that power them. Not really. I’m lucky: my partner is an engineer, and he’s helped me with it. But I really want to own my own domain and control my own domain.
Recently I’ve moved away from your standard blogging platforms – Wordpress, for example – and servers and storage – Amazon Web Services, in my case.
I’ve started using GitHub Pages, public Web pages hosted by GitHub and managed through its interface. (GitHub is a Web-based tool for open source code management and version control.) A repository, or “repo,” on GitHub can automatically generate pages, which are powered by Jekyll.
You can run a “blog” with Jekyll – that is, a presentation of posts in reverse-chronological order. But I think it’s better and easier to think about these posts as individual, static Web pages. (That’s what they really are.) Take these static Web pages and tie them together however you want. It is, after all, your domain.
What you’ll need:
- A domain (whose DNS you can control)
- A GitHub account
- A text editor
- A theme
- GitHub’s desktop software (optional, but way easier)
- Online file storage (that generates public URL) (optional)
Recommendations and resources:
- Domain Registration: Hover
- Domain Registration plus Hosting: Reclaim Hosting
- My Jekyll theme: Mediator (Others can be found here. Here is Doug Belshaw’s guide to using Bootstrap with Jekyll.)
- Official Jekyll site and documentation
- John Gruber’s Markdown documentation
- Cloudflare (optional CDN, DNS and security tool)
- I use Sublime Text as my text editor. It’s expensive, and there are lots of free online alternatives. I use Byword as my Markdown editor. Ditto for cheaper alternatives.
- “Using GitHub to Power A Web Project: How and Why” – a 2013 blog post by me
Tune in next week for the next lesson…