Automate Jekyll post creation with Thor

If you’re reading this and you ever visited my old site, you’ll notice that I’ve done a redesign. You might not notice that I’ve moved from using WordPress to using Jekyll - a static site generator written in Ruby.

Instead of writing posts in a browser, I now write them in my favourite text editor using markdown. All the meta data for a post (title, category, published date etc.) is setup via a config block of YAML front-matter at the top of the post. For my blog posts, it looks like this:

layout: post
title: "Automate Jekyll post creation with Thor"
date: 2014-01-29
tags: Workflow
categories: blog

And for my projects posts, it looks like this:

layout:     project
title:      "Kallo"
date:       2013-09-05 10:20:28
categories: projects
    - type: desktop
      src: kallo-desktop.jpg
    - type: tablet
      src: kallo-tablet.jpg
    - type: mobile
      src: kallo-mobile.jpg

It would be a pain in the ass to remember and type out all this stuff when starting a new post so I’ve automated the process with a Ruby gem called Thor and modified a snippet I found by Jonas Forsberg to do so.

Thor is a simple and efficient tool for building self-documenting command line utilities

To create a new post I just crack open the command line, use the thor new command and a new file is created in the correct folder with all the front-matter filled in and automatically opened in my editor of choice.

# create a new post in blog category with today's date
thor post:new "Automate Jekyll post creation with Thor"

# optionally pass in the date for creation
thor post:new "Automate Jekyll post creation with Thor" --date=2014-01-01

# create a projects post instead
thor post:new "The next Facebook" --category=projects

Guided by Jonas’ article, I installed the required gems by adding them to my Gemfile and created a single post.thor script in the root of my site. I then added the additional options I wanted with some sensible defaults - I write more blog posts than post up projects, so “blog” is the default category.

This is the final script:

require "stringex"
class Post < Thor

  desc "new", "create a new post"
  method_option :editor, :default => "vim"
  method_option :date
  method_option :category, :default => "blog"

  def new(*title)
    title = title.join(" ")
    date = options[:date] ||'%Y-%m-%d')
    category = options[:category]
    layout = options[:category] == 'blog' ? 'post' : 'project'
    filename = "_posts/#{category}/#{date}-#{title.to_url}.md"

    if File.exist?(filename)
      abort("#{filename} already exists!")

    puts "Creating new post: #{filename}"
    open(filename, 'w') do |post|
      post.puts "---"
      post.puts "layout: #{layout}"
      post.puts "title: \"#{title.gsub(/&/,'&amp;')}\""
      post.puts "date: #{date}"
      post.puts "tags:"
      post.puts "categories: #{category}"
      if category == 'projects'
        post.puts "images:"
        post.puts "    - type: desktop"
        post.puts "      src: -desktop.jpg"
        post.puts "    - type: tablet"
        post.puts "      src: -tablet.jpg"
        post.puts "    - type: mobile"
        post.puts "      src: -mobile.jpg"
      post.puts "---"

    system(options[:editor], filename)


In a future post I’ll be writing about more Jekyll automation stuff and show how I’ve created a single-command deployment process for this blog.

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