Blog | Jekyll | 5 reasons you should use Jekyll March 04, 2015
I recently reached out to people that I consider to be influencers in the Jekyll static site generator community. These are users passionate enough to contribute code snippets, blog about using Jekyll and open source themes to the community. They aren't core contributing team members, but rather regular users like you and I.
I asked these influencers to share some of their opinions and experiences of Jekyll. I explored what they love, what makes them facepalm, and where they would like to see Jekyll and it's community headed.
The response I had was awesome and I wanted to share my findings so that if you aren't using Jekyll already you might be convinced to give it a try.
To help set the scene, the average length of Jekyll use by respondents was almost 2 and a half years with some relatively new and two almost pushing 5+ years. Jekyll is currently used by half for personal projects only, the other half using it for both personal and professional work.
My first big question was "What do you love about Jekyll?"
Top 5 most common reasons to love Jekyll:
It would seem to me that those 5 most common answers for loving Jekyll are really subsets of two larger comforts for developers:
Predictability cannot be overvalued for developer peace of mind!
"What do you love about Jekyll?"
Its hacker-feeling nature. No CMS, no admin UI, no rich-text editor, no databases, etc. It just feels like a truly cheap-and-cheerful (whilst actually being very rich in features) way for a technical person to get a site up and running. It feels a lot ‘closer to home’ by cutting out all the overhead that comes with a more traditional CMS and/or blogging platform. It’s by developers, for developers.
I like that it's all static. This frees me up from worrying about making sure I have regular non-corrupt database backups or making sure my CMS was patched of all new security vulnerabilities. Now I just host on Amazon S3 with Cloudfront and have no worries about security or performance.
I mostly like the lack of moving parts on the server side. I've spent an excessive amount of time replicating standard blogging workflows for my Jekyll setup, so in my case it's definitely not about convenience. But my site (http://brettterpstra.com) is fast and holds up well under heavy traffic.
Jekyll is extremely lightweight and customizable. I can use standard HTML/CSS with Jekyll as a page templater, and that's *it*. It doesn't force me to change anything else about my workflow or learn lots and lots of new things/languages. And...I can use it in combination with GitHub Pages to host stuff for free :D
Static site generation exposes the actual lower requirements of some websites: we're so obsessed with new features in websites that we miss the point of simpler use-cases.
I like the simplicity - it was my first static site generator so knowing this kind of thing existed was a relief from either classic CMS systems or using PHP includes.
Complete control over the content you throw at it. There's no mystery to what's going on and it's easy to understand if you have a basic knowledge of how web pages are built.
The simplicity and ability to quickly generate static sites. I greatly enjoy the ability to use includes in order to share common components like navigation, footers, etc. Same goes for multiple layout support. CLI support is also key.
It makes sense, and I feel that I have more control than with any other CMS I've used.
I know exactly how it works; it's simple and behaves how I expect. Being able to write in Markdown is part of this, I have found WYSIWYG editors often produce ugly and sometimes wrong HTML, whereas the Markdown to HTML conversion is very deterministic.
It's remarkably flexible, I've been surprised with how easily it has been to make it do something that isn't technically blogging; photo galleries, podcasting, that sort of thing.
Easy to use static site generator. Ruby gem. Uses markdown.
Writing in Markdown, having the whole blog on my computer easily, lack of a database, deploying with rsync and (last but not least) the speed for users.
My two favorite things about Jekyll are: 1. The ability to write posts in Markdown and in my text editor of choice. When I used to use WordPress, I'd always write offline and then copy and paste into the editor. Removing the extra step encourages me to write more. 2. The ease of hosting a static site and the reduction of security vulnerabilities eliminating dynamic process and frameworks provides. I understand WordPress has made improvements in the way security patches are distributed but I really like not having to worry about keeping even more software up to date. The machine I run my sites on automatically updates server patches. That equates to much less time maintaining the server.
The fact that it's a simple, but complete, system. GitHub Pages support is also huge.
Jekyll is extremely simple and easy to use.
Jekyll is a very simple, straight-forward tool. It gives me just what I need to put together a blog or a static website without all of the extra junk. Tom Preston-Werner called it "blogging for hackers", and I found that to be an appropriate description. Speaking as a programmer, I found it very easy to dive in and learn the basics. It gives you the freedom and ability to create just about anything you'd need provided you are willing to learn Markdown and a little bit of the Liquid template engine.
Join me next week when I'll be sharing some common traps that these Jekyll users have had to overcome.