Plainionist Plainionic Programmer

Blogging with Jekyll - My IBE

After having blogged with Jekyll for some while now I have found some convenient setup which makes me feel quite effective. Today I want to share my setup with you. Maybe some aspects inspire you, maybe you want to leave a comment about your own setup to inspire me?

Being primarily a .Net developer it was almost obvious for me to take Visual Studio as editor. I have created a Visual Studio project which contains all my posts and also all layout files, includes and configuration files. This way I have everything right at hand in the Solution Explorer.

Now being enabled to write posts I have added a few add-ons to make the setup effective …

How to preview the post?

As I am writing from a Windows client, installing Jekyll locally and run it to preview the post is almost not an option … at least not unless I switch to Windows 10. I have checked various installation tutorials and concluded that it is for me not worth the effort. I will give an update on that aspect once I gave the Windows 10 setup a try.

What other alternatives for previewing the posts do I have?

I finally decided to install this MarkdownEditor. It gives me a nice preview right in Visual Studio. It will not produce exactly the same output as Jekyll on GitHub pages will do but for me it is sufficient enough.

Update 2018-04-08

I got a hint to Portable Jekyll on my question on stackoverflow. I have tried it today. Even though the project is unfortunately quite outdated it basically works. I am now able to nicely preview a complete post including pictures ;-)

If you want to try it on you own here are the minimal steps to success

  • download zip
  • start setpath.cmd
  • run jekyll build --source [blog sources] --destination c:\temp\blog
  • for each post a sub folder is generated. Double-click the index.html to preview the post

Note: Until I have figured out how to install further Jekyll plug-ins in the portable environment I had to disable all plug-ins in _config.yml - that’s the only small drawback I have found so far.

How to include diagrams?

I am a big fan of simple and pragmatic solutions, also when it comes to diagrams. I really don’t like UML and I hate the usability of Enterprise Architect - should I actually even call it “usability”? …

Luckily I came across draw.io. This is exactly the tool I needed. Simple and pragmatic. I can use it from the browser for a quick sketch or as a desktop application for bigger projects. I can just draw boxes and circles - my preferred way of drawing :) … but I can also choose some of the endless standard shapes - even UML ;-)

What about spell checking?

To be honest I wrote my first blog posts without any spell checking support. This was a bad idea as I learned later on when I spell-checked my older posts.

Typos happen. Errors happen. Quality matters. Do NOT blog without spell checking support.

I have finally installed the VSSpellChecker. When I tried it first it did not work for markdown files but in combination with the MarkdownEditor it works perfectly fine.

Plainion.JekyllLint

After having installed the spell checker I wondered what other “quality assurance” I could use to write high quality posts. I did some research and found some “linter” projects but none which really fits my needs. So I have started my own one - Plainion.JekyllLint. It is still in an early stage but helped me already to find some issues. I will add more rules to it whenever I learn something new about writing, blogging and SEO.

To install Plainion.JekyllLinter just download the latest release and extract it somewhere. Then add the following snippet to your Visual Studio project:

<Target Name="AfterBuild">  
  <Exec Command="D:\bin\Plainion.JekyllLint\Plainion.JekyllLint.exe _posts" />
</Target>  

If you now build your project you will see errors and warnings in your Visual Studio “Error” tab!

Plainion.CI

Last but not least I am using Plainion.CI to publish my posts. Certainly a simple Git client with “one click commit and publish” would do the trick as well but I am already used to Plainion.CI from my other open source projects and in that setup Plainion.JekyllLint runs before publishing and so ensures that I don’t publish posts with “errors” inside.

Now it is about you …

How does your IBE (Integrated Blogging Environment) look like?

Tags: jekyll  blogging