My old website was actually hosted on the blogger platform, and over the five years it was up I got pretty tired of my dated headshot and the clunky tools. I decided it was time to move to github hosting and then took a rather twisty, rambling path that ended here. I’ve decided to put together a short guide in case you’d like to make your own site with less confusion than I did.
TL;DR: I used ruby, blender, jekyll, a pre-made theme, github, and discovered I’m the only one left who still uses a c shell.
I’ve only worked on pages using html before, but I knew I wanted something a little fancier for my site. I was browsing themes that should interface with github and I ended up on a jekyll themes page where I fell pretty hard for al-folio, a template specifically designed for academics complete with project pages and a publications page automatically constructed from a bib file. I was sold.
But what’s jekyll?
From what I understand, it’s a tool that takes a set of input style files and pages with content in markdown and translates them to a website. Specifically, it’s meant for static websites rather than dynamic ones (I didn’t realize that was a thing, but apparently I’m not a web designer), and it’s integrated pretty well into github.
I started by installing a bunch of things, but I should have started by forking the template to create a branch on my own github repository, renaming it to sjschmidt.github.io (or, in your case, username.github.io , and then cloning it to a local directory.
Installing software in circles
Many places on the internet reccomended that I manage jekyll through a combination of ruby and bundler, two things that I had barely heard of before. Ruby is a high level programming language that is often used in web development (I think). Bundler helps to manage Ruby packages (known as gems). I relied on this guide for a lot of my basics, but I had to deviate from it in some rather strong ways.
Running a mac for astro, I already had Xcode and its command line tools installed, so that’s first on the list.
Next is ruby. Most macs come with Ruby pre-installed (and mine had a relatively updated version) but I chased my own tail with the next few steps for a while because it was both not updated enough and giving me weird permission issues (I kept on being all like “I am ROOT!!!” and it wasn’t listening).
So make like this tutortial and use your version of ruby to install brew to install ruby. And, if, like me, you’re running a c-shell because that’s how your computer was set up a decade ago and you set up your new ones the same way, just type bash to switch over and run the install commands.
Back to the website
Remember that? So at that point I went back to the directions on the jekyll tutorial or the jekyll theme instructions and run the bundle install command, followed by bundle exec jekyll serve. That creates a copy of your website at localhost:4000 that you can reload and check out while you tweak settings and put together content.
As an aside, I spend a while banging my head against the wall with a bug like this one, where it wouldn’t compile because of an invalid ASCII character, and I thought the solution wouldn’t work for me because of a bash vs. c shell issue. I eventually translated those commands and got going.
So after taking the time to git add and git commit all of your lovely changes, time to deploy. My template came with a handy script that replaced the other deployment (it does a fancy little extra branch so it only pushes the final website to github) but from there it was smooth sailing… except for all those changes I forgot to commit that one time. Just that one time.