Single command Jekyll deployment

I love Jekyll. Now I’ve set myself up with an automated way to create new posts, it’s super easy to get writing a new article quickly. The next thing on my list was automated deployment.

I’ve created a single command that uses a series of different steps that I’ll outline first and then bring together as a whole…


I use Grunt to watch files in development but I also have a default task that cleans and compiles my Sass into a dist (distribution) folder, compresses images and would uglify my JavaScript if I used any on my site.

Jekyll Build

jekyll build is a command that builds the static HTML of my site from all the component parts - the separate blog posts, project posts and page templates from a series of includes and page templates.

This build command generates a _site folder ready to send up to my server.


The first iteration of my deployment process used scp which is a command line tool for securely transferring files. The reason I’ve moved away from using scp is that it will transfer everything in the _site folder (because that’s what I told it to do) rather than just transferring files that have been modified in the latest merge. After a little digging, I found another utility that would do just that.


rsync is similar to scp but more powerful - its’ used for syncing files and folders rather than just blindly copying what it’s told to.

I use rsync with a couple of option flags:

  • -r recursive - recurse into directories
  • -u update - skip files that are newer on the receiver
  • -i itemize - output a change summary

These flags are combined with the files to transfer (. means the current directory) and the destination as follows:

rsync -rui .

Shell alias

I use ZSH as my shell and have a .zshrc in my home directory. This contains a bunch of helper scripts and aliases, one of which is for deploying my Jekyll site. I’ve created an alias of deploymyblog which strings together all the commands necessary to get the lastest version of my site from my machine to my server with as little hassle as possible.

These commands break down like this:

% cd ~/path/to/local/dev/site
% grunt
% jekyll build
% cd _site
% rsync -rui .

These commands can be strung together with the && operator and aliased to a nice, memorable name:

alias deploymyblog="cd ~/path/to/local/dev/site && grunt && jekyll build && cd _site && rsync -rui ."

Blogging consistently is hard but since I’ve made creating new post templates and deploying new articles to the server as easy as possible, I have two fewer excuses for not posting often enough…!

If you hate email but still want to keep in touch, follow me on Twitter.

Guy Routledge avatar
Currently available hire me