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blogging with Pelican


Pelican is a static blog generator; it converts marked-up text files to html (Pelican supports Markdown and reStructuredText). The resulting site is complete with an index (Archives view), Tags, Categories, and Pages (for non-bloggy stuff like a CV or About Me file).

As for my blog, its tree structure looks like this:

pages/{about-me.rst, key-posts.rst}
posts/{arts/, computing/, misc/, movies/}
  • The build directory is where the output of the build process is stored.
  • The pages directory is for any content that isn't blog posts.
  • The posts directory is where the large chunk of content lives, the blog posts themselves. Each of the four directories in there represent a Category, for example: if you place some file in arts/, the post will be marked as falling under arts Category.
  • I host my blog on GitHub, using a service the call GitHub Pages. CNAME is a file required by that service in the case where I want to use a domain other than tshepang.github.io. It's content is tshepang.net.
  • fabfile.py contains the build instructions, all for convenience so that I only need to run 2 commands, one for the build, and another for GitHub upload. However, I mostly just run one command that does both.
  • The settings.py file contains Pelican configuration. It should be somewhat mostly self-explanatory, but for those things that aren't so obvious, do consult the documentation.

Now as for the post itself, you need metadata to go with it. This is stuff like title, date, and tags. It can be tedious to create all such mundate stuff, especially the date. That's why I wrote a script that generates that file and populates it with the given metadata:

$ python new-post.py 'my blogging setup' misc --tags blogging

This is the metadata, and also the beginning of the file:

my blogging setup

:date: 2012-04-12
:tags: blogging

The script also opens the file in my favorite editor, so I can start adding content.

When I'm done and happy with my latest changes, I ensure I'm in the root directory of my blog, commit (hg commit --message 'new post') and run:

$ fab

That's a fabric command the uses the instructions found in fabfile.py. It builds the site, and then pushes is to GitHub Pages. It also pushes the sources to Bitbucket. Within a minute, the blog will be updated.