Install Jekyll

Jekyll is a static website builder that lets you write blog posts in markdown.

I will briefly describe my workflow on macOS. You can find guides for Windows and Linux here - things will work slightly differently, but not that differently. Let me know if you are having trouble getting it to work.

As described here, on macOS you need to:

  1. install Homebrew by copying the following into terminal, and pressing enter:
    /bin/bash -c "$(curl -fsSL"
  2. use Homebrew to install chruby and ruby-install, by entering the following into terminal:
    brew install chruby ruby-install
  3. use ruby-install to install Ruby, by entering the following into terminal:
    ruby-install ruby
  4. tell your shell to use chruby, by copying and pasting each of these commands in terminal:
    • if your shell is zsh:
      • echo "source $(brew --prefix)/opt/chruby/share/chruby/" >> ~/.zshrc
      • echo "source $(brew --prefix)/opt/chruby/share/chruby/" >> ~/.zshrc
      • echo "chruby ruby-3.1.2" >> ~/.zshrc
    • if your shell is bash:
      • echo "source $(brew --prefix)/opt/chruby/share/chruby/" >> ~/.bash_profile
      • echo "source $(brew --prefix)/opt/chruby/share/chruby/" >> ~/.bash_profile
      • echo "chruby ruby-3.1.2" >> ~/.bash_profile
    • if your shell is fish, you may need to do something along the lines of what is mentioned here
  5. quit and relaunch terminal
  6. check if ruby is working, by typing the following command into terminal:
    • ruby -v -> this should output the version of ruby you have installed
  7. install Jekyll, by typing the following command into terminal:
    • gem install jekyll bundler

Jekyll have a troubleshooting page and a forum where you can find information & help from the community.

Navigate to your github pages repository (on your computer)

Once Jekyll is installed, make sure you have made a github repository according to these instructions, and cloned it to a location on your computer.

Navigate to the folder at that location in terminal. You can do this by using the cd or change directory command, in conjunction with ls, or list, which will tell you what folders and files are in the current directory, and pwd, which will output the path of the present working directory.

Alternatively, you can right click on a folder in finder, and select “New Terminal at Folder”.

New Terminal at Folder

If you can’t see that option, you can enable it via System Preferences -> Keyboard -> Shortcuts -> Services -> enable “New Terminal at Folder

Services, New Terminal at Folder

Now you are at the location of your github pages repo on your computer in terminal, typing pwd should return a path that looks something like this:

github pages repo pwd

The directory should be named your github username follwed by

Type jekyll -v to make sure your shell can see the jekyll command.

Now type:

jekyll new . --force

This should initialise a jekyll project. In finder, it should look like this:

fresh jekyll in finder

In terminal, typing ls lists the contents of the folder. It should look something like this:

fresh jekyll in terminal

Note here the _posts folder - this will become important in just a moment.

Enable code .

In terminal, type code . including the space and full stop. This command is very useful as it should open whole folder in VS Code.

If code . does not work, you may need to open VS Code manually, and from inside VS Code, bring up the command pallette by pressing cmd + shift + P, and type code. Select Shell Command: Install ‘code’ command in PATH

install code in path

Serving locally with Jekyll

Once the folder is open in VS Code, it should look like this:

fresh jekyll in vscode

Press cmd + tab to cycle back to terminal, and type bundle exec jekyll serve --livereload

*this did not initially work for me – I had to install webrick as per this thread

With any luck, your terminal should output something like this:

fresh serve in terminal

cmd + clicking on the URL next to Server Adress: (it will most likely be or something similar) should take you to a page that looks something like this:

fresh serve in a browser

This will be the landing page for your blog.

Clicking on the post Welcome to Jekyll! should take you to a page that looks like this:

freshly served jekyll post

There are some important bits of information on this page. Note the first line:

You’ll find this post in your _posts directory.

… and the naming convention for post files:


Press cmd + tab to cycle back to VS Code, and click on the _posts folder in the file explorer on the left. You should see one file, named something like 2022-08-14-welcome-to-jekyll.markdown. Click on this file to see its contents in the main VS Code pane:

fresh post, code

At the top of the file, you should see something like this:

layout: post
title:  "Welcome to Jekyll!"
date:   2022-08-14 02:17:35 +1000
categories: jekyll update

^ this is front matter, and you will need it in every post. Highlight it and copy it to your clipboard with cmd + C.

Making a new post

In VS Code, right-click on the _posts folder on the left, and click on New File.

New File, in VS Code

Now give it a name that conforms with the naming convention we noted earlier. Also note that we can use the .md file extension, rather than from .MARKUP, or .markdown.

New File, named, in VS Code

Here I have named my file, but you can name yours whatever you want, so long as it conforms to the convention

Once the file has a name, press enter. The empty file should appear on the right.

Paste the front matter we copied onto the clipboard earlier:

Paste front matter

Change the title and category fields, and press cmd + S to save.

Cycle back to the browser, and navigate back to the landing page by pressing “Your awesome title” or pressing back (or cmd + ).

You should now have a second blog post, featuring the title you gave to your new file in it’s front matter.

a new post appears

If you click on it, you will notice that this new blog post is empty.

the new post is empty

We can populate it by writing markdown in this new file.

Plain text seperated by white space become paragraph elements, and different numbers of hashes, ie. #, ##, ###, etc. will create different styles of headings.

populated with markdown

Saving the file should cause the post in the browser to update. This behaviour is because we used the --livereload flag when we ran jekyll serve earlier – saving the post file will cause the browser to reload the page, showing the changes you made.


Use the syntax [link text](http://URL) to create hyperlinks. Lets create a link to this markdown cheat sheet.

markdown link syntax

… for example, looks like this:

a link appears


Showing an image is slightly more complicated.

First create a new folder named etc in the root directory of the repo:

a new etc folder

Then, create another new folder in etc, named images:

a new images folder

Then, put an image in the images folder. I’m using a screenshot of my new Jekyll blog post. Take care to note the name of the image file. In this example, we will name the image blogception.png.

The markdown to show this image would look something like:


this image is like inception, but in markdown

… which renders the image like this:

this image is like inception, but in blog format

There are a bunch of other things you can do in markdown – experiment with some of the extended syntax from here.

Embedding a p5 sketch

Because markdown is converted to html behind the scenes, you can also just write html directly into a markdown file.

Go here, and then File -> Share -> Embed to grab the embed html for this p5 sketch.

p5 share

Clicking on the Embed field should copy the html to the clipboard.

p5 embed

Simply paste this html into your markdown file, and save.

embed is too small

Unfortunately, the default size for the iframe is too small. We can fix this by adding width and height attributes inside the <iframe> tag:

<iframe width=576 height=366 src=""></iframe>

Here we can set the width to the width of the sketch (576 pixels), and the height to the height of the sketch (324 pixels), plus 42 pixels to account for the p5 header in the iframe element.

embed adjusted

Save this, and voila – embedded p5 sketch.

p5 sketch embedded

Add, commit, push.

Return to terminal, and press ctrl + C to terminate the jekyll server.

If you are using git in the terminal, add your changes with:

git add .

Then commit your changes with a descriptive message:

git commit -m 'first post using Jekyll'

And finally, push your changes to the github server with:

git push

Once pushed, your changes should go live on the internet within a minute or two.