Moving the log to a Jekyll collection

· Pablo ·

This post assumes basic knowledge of Jekyll.

Since the beginning of this year I’ve been writing down a weekly log of articles, books, podcasts and others that I’ve specially enjoyed. Initially I wrote it down in one big Markdown file that translated into a single HTML page but recently I finally got to separate each week into its own page. This turned out to be pretty easy to do using Jekyll Collections so I decided to write down the necessary steps to use it as documentation.

Creating the separate files

First I wanted to create separate files for each week so each week gets its own page. To create the separate files I wrote a Python script to help me do the job. The basic idea is to loop through every Monday with a object and create the post associated with that Monday’s week. I decided each post should have:

  1. A title which states the week number as well as the start and end of the week
  2. A date of publication; this allows me to hide unfinished weeks and to create an RSS of the log.
  3. An id. The single-page version had an anchor link to every week so to prevent link-rot I saved those. Luckily I used the week number as an id so I don’t have to parse it from the source file
  4. The actual content of the week.

After going through Liquid’s documentation I decided to hard-code the title as a string in Python. Liquid has limited support for date formatting but it’s English-only so it wouldn’t work without extra plugins1. To get the title given the Monday date I wrote this function using datetime:

SUNDAY = timedelta(days = 6) # 6 days timedelta
name = lambda dt: dt.strftime("%d de %B") # %d is the day, %B is the month name

def get_title(dt):
  """Gets title of week log given Monday date.""""
  n = dt.isocalendar()[1]
  start, end = name(dt), name(dt + SUNDAY)
  return "Semana {0} ({1} a {2})".format(n,start,end)

To get the names in Spanish I set the locale using locale’s setlocale. Unfortunately locale names are not standardized so my locale in Linux Mint (es_ES.utf8) might not work in your computer (sad!).

To build posts I wrote a function that writes the YAML front matter using ruamel.yaml and after that writes the content2:

def build_post(dt, content):
  """Creates post for a certain week given date and content."""

  name = ...
  frontmatter = dict(...)

  with open(name, 'w') as week_log:
    yaml.dump(frontmatter, week_log)

To get the contents I just go line by line in the source file and I split the contents:

contents = []
with open("", 'r') as w2018:
  cur_week = ""
  for line in w2018.readlines():
    if line.startswith("<h3"):
      cur_week = ""
      cur_week += line

That way contents[i] has week number i contents and I just need to build each post until the current week:

cur_monday  = date(2018,1,1)
while cur_monday <= date(2018, 6, 24):
  week_number = cur_monday.isocalendar()[1]
  build_post(cur_monday, contents[week_number])
  cur_monday += timedelta(weeks = 1)

And that’s it! You can check the complete script here.

Defining a collection

Simply put, a Jekyll collection named collection is a set of files in the folder _collection (the underscore is important!) with an object site.collection you can use in Liquid code in your page. If you’ve ever used Jekyll you already know two (special) examples: posts and drafts (whose associated sets of files are, of course, in the folders _posts and _drafts).

For this project I defined a collection called log and I stated that I wanted each file to have its own page:

    output: true

I also specified a custom layout for log files in defaults3:

  - scope:
      path: ""
      type: log
      layout: log

The only remaining step now is to populate the _log folder with the files I created in the previous step (I moved them into _log/2018 and I moved some other log-like posts to _log/2016).

You can do some other fancy things with collections such as adding arbitrary metadata or configuring permalinks but I didn’t need those for the log.

Keeping the old page working

The final step is to keep the old page working so that I don’t break any link. This is where collections prove useful since you couldn’t list the week logs in a page with Liquid otherwise. To list the files as they were before we just loop through site.log to get every week and add a little CSS for extra magic4:

{% for item in site.log %}
  <div class="week-header">
    <a  href=" {{ item.url }}">:anchor:</a> 
    <h3 id=" {{ item.tag }}">{{ item.title }}</h3>
  {{ item.content }}
{% endfor %}

And that is all. I hope this wasn’t too boring, until next time!

  1. Unless of course I did the translation myself manually but I didn’t want to spend time in that. 

  2. I glossed over a few details in this code snippet, you can check the complete code here

  3. I omitted certain existing configurations that only apply to posts; you can check the complete configuration here

  4. As before this code snippet is simplified and the actual version is actually much uglier, check it here