GitHub Pages is now running the latest major version of Jekyll, Jekyll 3.0, and with it, many of the complexities associated with publishing have been further simplified, meaning it's now easier and faster to publish beautiful sites for you and your projects.

A more intuitive Markdown experience

If you're familiar with using Markdown to author issues, pull requests, or comments on GitHub.com, writing Markdown for GitHub Pages sites will now be equally as intuitive. Markdown may be the lingua franca of the open source community, but that doesn't mean that certain regional dialects haven't emerged over the years. Traditionally, authors have had to choose between several different Markdown engines, each with their own interpretations of how Markdown should work.

Starting May 1st, 2016, GitHub Pages will only support kramdown, Jekyll's default Markdown engine. If you are currently using Rdiscount or Redcarpet we've enabled kramdown's GitHub-flavored Markdown support by default, meaning kramdown should have all the features of the two deprecated Markdown engines, so the transition should be as simple as updating the Markdown setting to kramdown in your site's configuration (or removing it entirely) over the course of the next three months.

The highlight zone

GitHub Pages now only supports Rouge, a pure-Ruby syntax highlighter, meaning you no longer need to install Python and Pygments to preview your site locally. If you were previously using Pygments for highlighting, the two libraries are feature compatible, so we'll swap Rouge in for Pygments when we build your site, to ensure a seamless transition.

Traditionally, highlighting in Jekyll has been implemented via the {% highlight %} Liquid tag, forcing you to leave a pure-Markdown experience. With kramdown and Rouge as the new defaults, syntax highlighting on GitHub Pages should work like you'd expect it to work anywhere else on GitHub, with native support for backtick-style fenced code blocks right within the Markdown.

Need for speed

Jekyll 3.0 offers several improvements for previewing and optimizing your site locally. For one, local builds are significantly faster, meaning you can preview your changes in near real time, and with incremental regeneration support (experimental), builds can be even faster still.

Jekyll 3.0 also introduces a liquid profiler. By adding --profile to the build or serve command, Jekyll will analyze your site's build time, so you can see exactly where things can be sped up, ensuring you spend more time authoring content, and less time waiting for your site to build.

Profiler output

Two additional changes

The Jekyll 3.0 upgrade will introduce two additional changes that may affect a small subset of users:

  1. Jekyll no longer supports relative permalinks. This has been the default since Jekyll 2.0, and is only an issue if you explicitly added relative_permalinks: true to your site's configuration. Going forward, regardless of your site's configuration, if you add the permalink directive to a page's YAML front matter, the path should be relative to the site's root directory, not the page's parent.
  2. Starting May 1st, 2016, GitHub Pages will no longer support Textile. If you are currently using Textile (Redcloth) to author your Jekyll site, you'll need to convert your site to use Markdown instead.

The changes introduced today promise to make GitHub Pages a faster, more intuitive experience for new and power users alike. For more information on upgrading, see Jekyll's 3.0 upgrade guide, and if you have any questions about Jekyll 3.0, the upgrade process, or just GitHub Pages in general, please get in touch with us.

Happy (simplified) publishing!

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