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Private Jekyll themes with Gemfury

By Jordan Trbuhovic · 13 Jun 2019
Private Jekyll themes with Gemfury

Jekyll themes allow styles and site structures to be reused across any number of sites. This eliminates the need to duplicate content, layouts, includes and assets across multiple sites.

Themes are a necessity when managing more than one site that use the same designs or styles. All sites using a theme are updated whenever changes are made to the theme.

Gemfury offers a secure hosting for gems/themes. All interactions with Gemfury are secure over HTTPS.

Creating Jekyll Themes

The Jekyll new-theme command creates a basic theme structure which includes the _layouts, _includes and _sass directories. Start building a theme by entering the following into your command line:

$ jekyll new-theme mytheme

This essentially generates a standard Jekyll site which other sites can inherit from.

Packaging Themes

Themes need to be packaged as a .gem file before being hosted on Gemfury. It is good practice to add all relevant details to the .gemspec file (mytheme.gemspec), and the readme before packaging. Errors will be displayed when packaging a theme if the .gemspec and readme files contain "FIXME" and "TODO" entries.

Themes are packaged into a gem file by using the gem build command:

$ gem build mytheme.gemspec

This packages all files and directories within your theme into a single gem file (yourtheme.gem).

Uploading Themes

Create an account with Gemfury and install the Gemfury CLI by entering the following within the command line:

$ gem install fury

Log into Gemfury to enable uploading:

$ fury login

Upload the gem theme to your account:

$ fury push mytheme-0.1.0.gem

If you're pushing to a shared account you will need to enter the username parameter :

$ fury push mytheme-0.1.0.gem --as USERNAME

Using Themes

To build a themed site the Gemfile needs to be adjusted so the theme is downloaded during the build process. Open the site's Gemfile and add the following:

source 'https://gem.fury.io/USERNAME/' do
gem 'GEMNAME', '~> 0.1.0'

The above Ruby code searches for the gem/theme from the source on build, and downloads the latest version.

Jekyll also needs to know that a site uses a theme. This is achieved by specifying the theme within your site's _config.yml file.

theme: mytheme


A deploy token can be generated on Gemfury's website to provide authentication for theme usage. Log in to Gemfury's website and navigate to Tokens > Deploy Tokens. Create a new deploy token and be sure to save it in a secure location. This key provides access to your theme and should not be shared publicly.

Adding authentication for local builds can be done using bundle config:

$ bundle config https://gem.fury.io/USERNAME/ DEPLOYTOKEN

Authentication also needs to be added to your site on CloudCannon, which can be done using environment variables . In CloudCannon navigate to Settings > Configuration > Environment Variables.

Add the key BUNDLE_GEM__FURY__IO and add your deploy token as the value. These steps only need to be performed once with each site using a theme.

Test your theme by building it locally. Note that you need to install your new theme so run bundle install before serving your site:

$ bundle install
$ bundle exec jekyll serve

Updating Themes

Each time a theme is updated you will need to run bundle update mytheme within your site's directory. This updates your Gemfile.lock which tells the site to use the latest theme version. Pushing this file will update the version used by CloudCannon.

Public Themes

All packages uploaded to Gemfury are made private by default. To make a package public you will need to change it's privacy settings:

  • Upload your package/theme to Gemfury
  • Open your account Dashboard
  • Open the relevant package and select 'Settings', or select the lock icon displayed beside the package's version
  • Select the 'Make package public' button

Your package/theme can now be accessed following your Repo-URL https://repo.fury.io/USERNAME/

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