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The ERQX blog engine

ERQX is an embeddable blog engine for Play Framework.

I wrote it to host my own blog, so currently it has the minimum feature set that I needed.

Currently it supports one backend - git.


  • Can be easily embedded into any Play application via a module include in the routes file.
  • Git backend with directory layout similar to Jekyll, YAML front matter on blog posts, etc.
  • Instant deploy from git hosting provided via commit hooks.
  • Supports Markdown and HTML.
  • Markdown blog posts may include code snippets from files external files - this allows embedding code snippets that are compiled and/or tested.
  • Can host multiple blogs.
  • Completely themeable.
  • Default theme uses responsive layout and Disqus for comments.
  • Support for many common blog features including tags, archive navigation, ATOM feeds.
  • Renderable static pages.
  • Heavy use of caching.

Planned features

  • backend.
  • Virtual hosting.
  • Pluggable blog post formats.
  • Multiple language support.


  1. If you don't have an existing Play project that you want to embed it into, create a new one.

  2. Add the following to your build.sbt file:

     resolvers += Resolver.bintrayRepo("jroper", "maven")
     libraryDependencies += "" %% "erqx-engine" % "2.1.2"
  3. Add a route to the blog router to your conf/routes file:

     ->  /
  4. Add the following configuration to your application.conf:

     # The blogs
     blogs {
       # A blog with name default.  The name can be anything, it is only used internally.
       default {
         # The path of the blog.  This should not end in a slash.  This path will be relative to the path that the blogs
         # router is deployed to.
         path = "/blog"
         # The order that the blog is routed.  Important if you have blogs that are nested in other blogs paths.
         # Defaults to 10.
         # order = 10
         # The git configuration
         gitConfig {
           # The repo must be a repo on the filesystem that has been cloned from somewhere.
           gitRepo = "/path/to/some/repo"
           # The path within the repo to serve the blog from.  Optional.
           # path = "blog/"
           # The branch to read the blog from.  Defaults to published.
           # branch = "published"
           # The name of the remote to fetch from.  If not specified, no fetch will be done when updating.
           # remote = "origin"
           # The fetch key.  Used to authenticate commit hooks from a remote git repository such as GitHub.
           # If not specified, remote triggering of fetching is disabled.
           # fetchKey = "somesecret"
           # The update interval.  If specified, the blog will be fetched (if a remote is configured) and reindexed at this
           # interval.  Reindexing is only done if the blog has actually changed.
           updateInterval = 10 minutes

Now you're good to go!

Blog repo layout

You can place posts into a _posts directory in the repo, all posts will be picked up from there. Blog posts should have a name in the format year-month-day-permalink-title.format, for example, Allowed formats are md and html.

Similarly, you can also place static pages into a _pages directory in the repo, and all pages will be picked up from there.

A file called _config.yml should be placed in the root directory of the repo.

Anything found in the root directory that doesn't start with an underscore will be served as a static asset, so images, for example, can be placed anywhere in the repo.

Config file

The config file contains the main properties for the blog post. For example:

# The title
title: My blog

# Optional subtitle
# subTitle: Just another ERQX blog

# Author - used by atom feed
author: Someone

# The description - optional, may contain HTML.
description: |
    This is the description of the blog.  It can contain HTML, such as:
    <ul style="text-align: left">
        <li>Anything else

# The footer - optional, may contain HTML.
footer: |
    Copyright Someone. All rights reserved.

# The theme to use, if not specified uses the default theme.
# theme:$

# The timezone to use for all parsed dates. Defaults to system
# timezone if not specified.
# timezone: Canberra/Australia

# Other arbitrary properties may go here that may be used by the theme.

# The default theme allows specifying a disqus id:
# disqus_shortname: mydisqusblog

Blog posts

Blog posts may contain a YAML front matter, containing meta data about the blog post. If there is no meta data, the meta data will be attempted to be extracted from the blog post file name. Here is an example front matter:

# The title of the post.  Optional.  Extracted from the filename if not present.
title: My first blog post

# Any tags for the post. Space separated.  Multi word tags can have their spaces escaped with +
tags: first post

# The date for the post, in YAML date format.  Extracted from the filename if not present.
# date: 2013-11-23

# Optional id. This is used for example when identifying the post to disqus.
# id: some-id

If the blog post is in markdown format, it will be rendered using the Play documentation markdown renderer (which itself is built on top of pegdown). This means code snippets may be included from external files using the following syntax:


Within the Code.scala source file, the markdown formatter will look for a snippet of code between two lines containing the string #some-label. Typically this string will be found in a comment line, for example, in Scala:

val four = 1 + 3


Pages may contain a YAML front matter, containing meta data about the page:

# The title of the page. Optional.
title: Some page title

# The permalink for the page. Optional. If not specified, will use the path of the file relative to the _pages
# directory, with the format extension replaced with .html
# permalink: path/to/page.html

Custom themes

Custom themes can be made by implementing The entry points to the theme are blogPost, blogPosts, page and notFound, the default implementations of these methods use the default theme.

Typically, these methods will simply delegate to Scala templates (as the default implementations do).

The other methods are used by the default theme. The main method provides the decorator that the entry points use.

The default theme main template also delegates to the head, navigation and footer templates. For simple themes, it will often suffice to simply override some of these methods.


Sample blogs can be found in the samples directory of this repository. To run them, clone this repository, and then from the root directory, run play, then from the console run project <sampleprojectname> to swith to the sample project, then run run.

Example sites using erqx

A note on performance

The backend of erqx isn't particularly fast - on my blog, rendering the front page took at least 150ms and generated 20mb of garbage on the heap. This is primarily due to using jgit directly on the backend. However, this poor performance is alleviated by ERQX's smart caching. ERQX caches not just the loading, but the rendering and gzipping of all pages and resources in a LRU cache (this cache is implemented as an actor for concurrency control, and uses low/high watermarks to achieve amortized constant time execution). With this caching, response time is a few milliseconds, and the garbage generated per request is negligable. On my single CPU linode, running a benchmark from the same node, I get about 3K requests per second, and this doesn't degrade as I increase the concurrency. Put simply, ERQX on modest hardware can shrug most typical load spikes of viral content. And of course, since ERQX nodes are stateless (they store their own clone of the git repository), they can be scaled out horizontally if you really need that.

In addition to the in memory caching on the backend, ERQX makes optimal use of etags for all HTML pages and resources served from within blogs, using a combination of the software version and the git hash of the blog to create the etag, plus when used in combination with the sbt-web digest plugin, all static resources served by ERQX (except for those served out of git) will be fingerprinted and served with far off expiry dates.

It's also recommended that you use the sbt-web gzip plugin to gzip all resources. When this is done, ERQX does not need to be used with Play's gzip filter since all resources are either pre gzipped, or gzipped by ERQX itself (before storing the gzipped content in its cache).