There and Back Again A Tale of Website Management


Arumoy Shome


March 4, 2022


Managing websites using markdown, shell and vim.

After years of using orgmode along with the org-publish package to run my website, I came back to markdown, shell & vim.

In my humble shell dwelling days—before I began my journey into Emacs land—I was using Jekyll. Rather, I was fighting with it. Github requires a CNAME file in the directory from which the website should be served. Now, the github-pages gem can be used to instruct Github Pages (GHP) to automatically build and serve the website. But I faced several challenges getting the compatible versions of the github-pages, jekyll and ruby to match.

I decided to forgo this madness and just use html & css to build my website. I used org-publish to accomplish this using the following setup in my init.el.

See the documentation for org-publish-project-alist on how to setup org-publish.

(setq org-publish-project-alist
 '(("org" :components ("org-posts" "org-static"))
    :base-directory "~/code/arumoy"
    :base-extension "org"
    :publishing-directory "~/code/arumoy/docs/"
    :section-numbers nil
    :auto-preamble t
    :auto-sitemap t
    :html-head "<link rel=\"stylesheet\" href=\"assets/css/main.css\" type=\"text/css\"/>"
    :publishing-function org-html-publish-to-html)
    :base-directory "~/code/arumoy/assets"
    :base-extension "css\\|js\\|png\\|jpg\\|gif\\|pdf\\|mp3\\|ogg\\|swf"
    :publishing-directory "~/code/arumoy/docs/assets/"
    :recursive t
    :publishing-function org-publish-attachment)
    :base-directory "~/code/arumoy/"
    :base-extension ""
    :publishing-directory "~/code/arumoy/docs/"
    :include ("CNAME")
    :publishing-function org-publish-attachment)
   ("website" :components ("website-posts" "website-static" "website-cname"))))

Since org-publish wipes the :publishing-directory clean prior to each build, I copy the CNAME file back in there.

I was very pleased with its simplicity and its text-centric nature. The fact that it just worked out of the box was a pleasant surprise. However this intricate setup only worked in Emacs and this did not sit well with me. So I decided to find a more universal solution and landed on Pandoc.

Pandoc has the --standalone flag which produces a document which is valid on its own (think HTML documents with header and footer). One can write custom templates to produce documents styled to their liking. The default template can be viewed using pandoc -R FORMAT. A custom template can be specified using the --template flag. See section on templates in the pandoc manual for more info.

Following the advice laid out by, I designed a minimal pandoc custom template which you can find my in dotfiles repo.

My current workflow comprises of authoring content in markdown which I edit in vim. I use GNU make to automate the html generation using pandoc. The contents of my Makefile are as follows.

# Taken from <>

SRCFILES:= $(wildcard *.md)

    pandoc --template=public -o docs/$@ $<

# Targets and dependencies

.PHONY: all clean

all : $(PUBFILES)

    rm $(PUBFILES)
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