How Jekyll works

agarie edited this page Oct 2, 2012 · 2 revisions

The Jekyll executable

The command-line parameters, the defaults and the _config.yml (through Jekyll::configuration method) are used to create an options hash and then a new site is instantiated:

# Create the Site  
site =  

After that, it starts to watch the necessary directories if the --auto option was used.

if options['auto']
  require 'directory_watcher'
  puts "Auto-regenerating enabled: #{source} -> #{destination}"
  # ...
  puts "Building site: #{source} -> #{destination}"
  # ...

The site is built through a call to site.process, the main method in the Jekyll::Site class. Finally, it runs the local server if --server was specified.

The actual processing

The site.process call is responsible for doing all the work necessary to turn the files in the site's source into a site. In lib/jekyll/site.rb:

def initialize(config)
  self.config = config.clone

  # Lots of configuration...


def process

reset and setup are called during initialization of the site to reset its internal data structures and to load libraries, plugins, generators and converters, respectively. process delegates the work to these 6 methods:

  • reset: initialize the layouts, categories and tags hashes and the posts, pages and static_files arrays.
  • read: get site data from the filesystem and store it in internal data structures. Generators and converters are loaded.
  • generate: call each of the generators' generate method.
  • render: call the render method for each post and page.
  • cleanup: All pages, posts and static_files are stored in a Set and everything else (unused files, empty directories) is deleted.
  • write: call the write method of each post, page and static_file, copying them to the destination folder.

This makes it easy to see that a plugin is hooked into Jekyll in the generate and render stages. As seen in the Plugins page, you only need to implement the correct methods and all is well.

This page was based on this blog post.