Photo Credit: WeGraphics
General notes and suggestions for customizing So Simple Theme.
- Running Jekyll
- Site Setup
- Adding New Content with Octopress
- Layouts and Content
- Social Share Links
- Disqus Comments
- Twitter Cards
- Jekyll search
- Further Customization
So Simple now requires Jekyll 2.x. Make sure to run
gem update jekyll if you aren’t on the latest version or
gem install jekyll if this is your first time installing it.
If you are creating a new Jekyll site using So Simple follow these steps:
- Fork the So Simple repo.
- Clone the repo you just forked and rename it.
- Install Bundler
gem install bundlerand Run
bundle installto install all dependencies (Jekyll, Jekyll-Sitemap, Octopress, etc)
_config.yml, add navigation, and replace demo posts and pages with your own. Full details below.
If you want to use So Simple with an existing Jekyll site follow these steps:
- Download So Simple and unzip.
so-simple-theme-masterto something meaningful ie:
bundle installto install all dependencies (Jekyll, Jekyll-Sitemap, Octopress, etc)
- Remove demo posts/pages and replace with your own posts, pages, and any other content you want to move over.
- Update posts’ and pages’ YAML to match variables used by So Simple. Full details below.
_config.ymland add navigation links and additional author data if applicable. Full details below.
Pro-tip: Delete the
gh-pages branch after cloning and start fresh by branching off
master. There is a bunch of garbage in
gh-pages used for the theme’s demo site that I’m guessing you won’t want.
jekyll build and
jekyll serve throw errors you may have to run Jekyll with
bundled exec instead.
In some cases, running executables without bundle exec may work, if the executable happens to be installed in your system and does not pull in any gems that conflict with your bundle.
However, this is unreliable and is the source of considerable pain. Even if it looks like it works, it may not work in the future or on another machine.
How So Simple is organized and what the various files are. All posts, layouts, includes, stylesheets, assets, and whatever else is grouped nicely under the root folder. The compiled Jekyll site outputs to
A quick checklist of the files you’ll want to edit to get up and running.
Site Wide Configuration
_config.yml is your friend. Open it up and personalize it. Most variables are self explanatory but here’s an explanation of each if needed:
The title of your site… shocker!
title: My Awesome Site
Your site’s logo, appears in the header below the navigation bar and is used as a default image for Twitter Cards when a feature is not defined. Place in the
Used to generate absolute URLs for sitemaps, feeds and for generating canonical URLs in a page’s
<head>. When developing locally either comment this out or use something like
http://localhost:4000 so all assets load properly. Don’t include a trailing
/. Protocol-relative URLs are a nice option but there are a few caveats1.
Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools
Google Analytics UA and Webmaster Tool verification tags can be entered under
_config.yml. For more information on obtaining these meta tags check Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools support.
To set what links appear in the top navigation edit
_data/navigation.yml. Use the following format to set the URL and title for as many links as you’d like. External links will open in a new window.
Adding New Content with Octopress
While completely optional, I’ve included Octopress and some starter templates to automate the creation of new posts and pages. To take advantage of it start by installing the Octopress gem if it isn’t already.
Default command for creating a new post.
Default works great if you want all your posts in one directory, but if you’re like me and want to group them into subfolders like
/portfolio, etc. Then this is the command for you. By specifying the DIR it will create a new post in that folder and populate the
categories: YAML with the same value.
To create a new page use the following command.
This will create a page at
Layouts and Content
Explanations of the various
_layouts included with the theme and when to use them.
Post and Page
These two layouts are very similar. Both have an author sidebar, allow for large feature images at the top, and optional Disqus comments. The only real difference is the post layout includes related posts at the end of the page.
In the sample posts folder you may have noticed
categories: articles in the YAML front matter. Categories can be used to group posts into sub-folders. If you decide to rename or add categories you will need to create new category index pages.
For example. Say you want to group all your posts under blog/ instead of articles/. In your post add
category: blog to the YAML front matter, rename or duplicate articles/index.md to blog/index.md and update the for loop to limit posts to just the blog category.
If done correctly /blog/ should be a page index of only posts with a category of
A good rule of thumb is to keep feature images nice and wide so you don’t push the body text too far down. An image cropped around around 1024 x 256 pixels will keep file size down with an acceptable resolution for most devices. If you want to serve these images responsively I’d suggest looking at the Jekyll Picture Tag plugin2.
The post and page layouts make the assumption that the feature images live in the
images/ folder. To add a feature image to a post or page just include the filename in the front matter like so.
To add attribution to a feature image use the following YAML front matter on posts or pages. Image credits appear directly below the feature image with a link back to the original source if supplied.
Video embeds are responsive and scale with the width of the main content block with the help of FitVids.
Not sure if this only effects Kramdown or if it’s an issue with Markdown in general. But adding YouTube video embeds causes errors when building your Jekyll site. To fix add a space between the
<iframe> tags and remove
allowfullscreen. Example below:
Link Post Type
So Simple Theme supports link posts, made famous by John Gruber. To activate just add
link: http://url-you-want-linked to the post’s YAML front matter and you’re done. Here’s an example of a link post if you need a visual.
By making use of data files you can assign different authors for each post.
Start by modifying
authors.yml file in the
_data folder and add your authors using the following format.
To assign Billy Rick as an author for our post. We’d add the following YAML front matter to a post:
Social Share Links
To add Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ share links to a post add the following YAML front matter.
Share links appear below author details in the sidebar.
To enable comments signup for a Disqus account and create a shortname for your site. Then add it to your
_config.yml under the site owner section like so:
If you would like comments to appear on every post or page that uses the
post.html layout simply add the following line to your
_config.yml and you’re done.
To be more selective and granualar with which posts and pages Disqus comments appear on, add
comments: true to the YAML Front Matter of each post or page instead.
Here’s an example of a tweet with Twitter Cards enabled.
Pro-Tip: You need to apply for Twitter Cards before they will begin showing up when links to your site are shared.
This is a very basic attempt at indexing a Jekyll site and returning search results with JSON — Google quality results this is not.
To exclude posts/pages from search results add
search_omit: true to their YAML Front Matter.
Jekyll 2.x added support for Sass files making it much easier to modify a theme’s fonts and colors. By editing values found in
_sass/variables.scss you can fine tune the site’s colors and typography.
For example if you wanted a red background instead of white you’d change
$body-color: #ebebeb; to
scripts.min.js. Install Node.js, then install Grunt, and then finally install the dependencies for the theme contained in
From the theme’s root, run
images/ folder. You can also use
grunt dev in combination with
jekyll build --watch to watch for updates JS files that Grunt will then automatically re-build as you write your code which will in turn auto-generate your Jekyll site when developing locally.
This theme is free and open source software, distributed under the MIT License. So feel free to use this Jekyll theme on your site without linking back to me or including a disclaimer.
If you decide to use a protocol-relative URL know that it will most likely break sitemap.xml that the Jekyll-Sitemap gem creates. If a valid sitemap matters to you I’d suggest creating your own sitemap.xml and apply some Liquid logic to prepend links to posts/pages with
If you’re using GitHub Pages to host your site be aware that plugins are disabled. You’ll need to build your site locally and then manually deploy if you want to use this sweet plugin. ↩