Pelican is a utility that lets you create beautiful weblogs using just text files. The files can be in reStructured Text or Markdown formats, which are both simple to learn. Like other blog software, you can make both timed posts and static pages. Pelican supports feeds, external analytics tools, and can import from WordPress or other feeds.
Github, arguably the world’s most popular open source code hosting service, offers a simple, elegant website solution for projects it hosts. Github Pages allows users to store page content in a git repository along with their code. By combining Pelican with Github Pages, you can have a reliable and attractive blog site for your projects.
Pelican may be a text-based blogging tool but it can produce beautiful blogs:
Pelican blogs are completely themeable, as you can see above; this particular theme is called Chunk. There are hundreds available on the web already, including responsive and bootstrap based.
Now that you’ve seen the value of Pelican, let’s get started building a site. You’ll need to be familiar with using the git command to follow the steps in this article.
Set up a github.io page
To create your Github user page, log in to Github and create two new repositories, username.github.io-src and username.github.io, as explained on Github pages. (Use your Github username for these repositories.) The username.github.io-src repository will hold the sources of your blog and the username.github.io repository will contain the output HTML files Pelican generates. To add the output directory as a submodule, initialize it with a README file.
On Fedora, this is a very very simple command:
sudo dnf install python-pelican
Clone the source repository you created:
git clone email@example.com:username/username.github.io-src ghpages
Then change directory to the site:
Set up the blog with Pelican
Double check that you’re working in the source git repository using:
git remote -v
You should see that you are using the username.github.io-src repository. Then, clone the output repository as a git submodule (substitute your Github username):
git submodule add firstname.lastname@example.org:username/username.github.io.git output
Pelican provides an excellent quickstart command. Run it:
The quickstart will ask you various questions, which you can answer in turn. Here are some specific answers you should give:
- Where do you want to create your new web site? (hit Enter)
- URL prefix: http://username.github.io
- Generate a Fabfile/Makefile: Yes (for most users)
- Auto-reload & simpleHTTP script: Yes (for most users)
- Upload mechanisms: choose No for all except Github Pages
- Is this your personal page (username.github.io)? Yes
You may receive an error message because the output directory already exists. This is OK.
Open the publishconf.py file and set the DELETE_OUTPUT_DIRECTORY variable to False. Otherwise, each time you publish, Pelican deletes your submodule, which is not what you want.
There are various tweaks and tips mentioned here that may be of interest. One of the more handy tweaks is the addition of a newpost command in the Makefile.
Write a quick post, using either Markdown or reStructured Text format, in the content folder.
Build, commit, push, done!
Once done, build your blog and test the results:
make html && make serve
This builds the blog, and then runs a local webserver on port 8000. Direct your browser there to see the results of your work. If everything is OK, generate the website:
Then add your files to git tracking, commit them, and push to the repositories. Due to the use of a submodule, you should do this with your output files before you push the source files.
cd output git add . git commit -m "First post." git push -u origin master cd .. echo '*.pyc' >> .gitignore #don't need pyc files git add . git commit -m "First commit." git push -u origin master
Now, you can visit the https://username.github.io and see the new site you’ve just created.
Caveats and customisations
Everything can be customized in Pelican. To start with, you can choose from a set of themes. There are also a set of plug-ins that help you add various functions to your site. Of course, you can write your own, or customize existing plugins and themes.
The Pelican documentation refers to a tool called ghp-pages, but the Pelican 3.6.0 version shipped in Fedora 22 doesn’t work as described in these docs. The submodule method above will help work around this problem.