Inspired by Mark Reid’s blog post Switching from Jekyll to Hakyll I decided to abandon Wordpress and give Jekyll a try (note, I currently do not yet feel pro enough to switch to Haskell-based Hakyll). I can confidently say that I could not be happier about this decision.

Wordpress Monster

“So what’s wrong with Wordpress?” You may ask. Let’s see, everything:

  • Wordpress blogs are clunky, slow and bloated.
  • Wordpress is dynamically rendered with .php. There are really only few niche applications where this is necessary. Dynamic code execution exposes your blog to hackers and exploits: zero-day attacks, viruses, etc. My own blog was hacked ~2 months ago and all my posts had been infected with spammy content that kept re-inserting itself magically when I removed it.
  • Wordpress is popular among the masses of people who don’t know any better, and therefore attracts the largest amount of spammers.
  • Your posts are stuck forever in an ugly, Wordpress-specific SQL database (ew). You can’t easily import/export posts. You do not really own your content in raw and nimble form.
  • Wordpress is blocked in China.

Wordpress is a bloated, clunky, slow, vulnerable, closed mess.

Jekyll <3

Jekyll describes itself as a tool for building “Simple, blog-aware, static sites”, and was originally written by one of the Github co-founders, Tom Preston-Werner. It is flat and transparent: Your blog workspace is a single folder with a config file, and a few folders for CSS and HTML templates. All my content, for example, lives in two folders:

  1. My blog posts are just files in a single folder _posts, written in Markdown. Including this post, of course.
  2. My images are in a single folder assets.

That’s it. You call $ jekyll build from command line and it will automatically render all posts it finds in your _posts folder from markdown to HTML, wraps it with header/footer templates, creates the parent index page that lists all your posts and outputs everything into a directory _site. The _site directory holds your entire webpage as static content. It can then be uploaded to a webserver wherever you like.

The entire code base consists of like 7 files. It’s easy to see how the HTML templates get composed to your final site. It’s trivial to tweak the CSS or any of the HTML templates. For example, I added Google Analytics tracking code to all my pages by tweaking the html template, and also Disqus comments to all my posts by tweaking the posts template with the Disqus Javascript code.

Github integration

Lastly, as you might expect Jekyll is tightly integrated with Github: create a repository that looks like and add your files to the repo. Github will automatically compile your files with Jekyll and make the _site folder available. For example, mine lives on Thus, Github makes sure that your blog is beautifully backed up forever in simple markdown, and also hosts your content!

Jekyll strikes the balance: It’s packed with just the right amount of features.

Example workflow

To give a flavor for the workflow, to add a new blog post I proceed as follows:

$ cd _posts
$ vim 2014-07-02-example-page.markdown

Now we write the blog post in markdown, here’s an example file:

layout: post
title:  "Post title"
excerpt: "A nice post"
date:   2014-07-02 10:00:00

Hello world, this is **markdown**.

Lets pop back out to console now. I could preview the changes in a local webserver with $ jekyll serve --watch (the watch switch refreshes any updated files as you write them). Now let’s just push it live:

$ cd ..
$ git add .
$ git commit -m "new blog post"
$ git push

After the last command, Github will see that my repo has changed and automatically refreshes to point to the newly generated _site. My post is live!

Anyway, that’s just a brief taste. Check out Jekyll and get blogging in a sane way!