How to Make Jekyll Category and Year Pages Without Plugins

Posted March 20, 2019. Jekyll, Text. 346 words.

Jekyll is fantastic, easy to use, and extensible. However, some Jekyll hosts such as GitHub Pages do not allow people to use custom plugins - and I want category and year pages. But rightly so. Allowing custom plugins would require hosts to allow users to run arbitary Ruby code on their build servers and possibly create a mess. This problem is solvable, but it’s ultimately simpler to just ban them entirely.

This constrained environment forces you to get creative. On this blog I use the fantasic jekyll-compress-html template which minifies the very post you are reading. I have written by own template to automatically replace standard markdown or HTML images with lazily loaded ones. And finally, I have written a small (it’s only a hundred or so lines ;) ) Makefile to automatically, among other-things, generate year and category pages:

# Find categories and years
CATTARGETS  = $(shell grep -h '^categories:' -r _posts/ | awk -F ':' \
              '{print $$2}' | tr ' ' '\n' | sed '/^$$/d' | sort | uniq | \
              awk '{print "categories/"$$1".html"}')
YEARTARGETS = $(shell find _posts/ -regextype egrep -regex '.*/[0-9]{4}.[^/]*' \
              -printf '%P\n' | cut -c-4 | sort | uniq | \
              awk '{print "years/"$$1".html"}')

# Generate category pages
cat: cat-clean $(CATTARGETS)
categories/%.html: _templates/category.html
	cp $< $@
	sed -i 's/#####CATEGORY#####/$*/' $@

# Generate year pages
year: year-clean $(YEARTARGETS)
years/%.html: _templates/year.html
	cp $< $@
	sed -i 's/#####YEAR#####/$*/' $@

To use, simply create _templates/category.html and a _templates/year.html templates and run make cat year. The code assumes your posts start with the date and they are stored in the default _posts/. When run #####CATEGORY##### and #####YEAR##### will be replaced with the templated value.

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