bio photo

Theme Setup

Contents

General notes and suggestions for customizing Minimal Mistakes.

Basic Setup for a new Jekyll site

  1. Install Bundler gem install bundler and then install Jekyll and all dependencies bundle install.
  2. Fork the Minimal Mistakes repo.
  3. Clone the repo you just forked and rename it.
  4. Edit _config.yml to personalize your site.
  5. Check out the sample posts in _posts to see examples for pulling in large feature images, assigning categories and tags, and other YAML data.
  6. Read the documentation below for further customization pointers and documentation.
Download the Theme

Pro-tip: Delete the gh-pages branch after cloning and start fresh by branching off master. There is a bunch of garbage in gh-pages used for the theme’s demo site that I’m guessing you don’t want on your site.


Folder Structure

minimal-mistakes/
├── _includes/
|    ├── _author-bio.html        # bio stuff layout. pulls optional owner data from _config.yml
|    ├── _browser-upgrade.html   # prompt to install a modern browser for < IE9
|    ├── _footer.html            # site footer
|    ├── _head.html              # site head
|    ├── _navigation.html        # site top navigation
|    └── _scripts.html           # site scripts
├── _layouts/
|    ├── home.html               # homepage layout
|    ├── page.html               # page layout
|    ├── post-index.html         # post index layout
|    └── post.html               # single post layout
├── _posts/                      # MarkDown formatted posts
├── assets/
|    ├── css/                    # site stylesheets
|    ├── fonts/                  # webfonts
|    ├── js/
|    |   ├── _main.js            # main JavaScript file, plugin settings, etc
|    |   ├── plugins/            # scripts and jQuery plugins to combine with _main.js
|    |   ├── scripts.min.js      # concatenated and minified _main.js + plugin scripts
|    |   └── vendor/             # vendor scripts to leave alone and load as is
|    └── less/
├── images/                      # images for posts and pages
├── about.md                     # sample about page
├── posts.md                     # sample post index page. lists all posts in reverse chronology
└── index.md                     # sample homepage. lists 5 latest posts

Customization

_config.yml

Most of the variables found here are used in the .html files found in _includes if you need to add or remove anything. A good place to start would be to change the title, description, and url of your site. When working locally use http://localhost:4000 or comment out url to avoid broken links prefixed with {{ site.url }}1 in the various _includes and _layouts. Just remember to set url back to the live domain before deploying or pushing to GitHub Pages.

Owner/Author Information

Change your name, bio, and avatar photo (100x100 pixels or larger), Twitter url, email, and Google+ url. If you want to link to an external image on Gravatar or something similiar you’ll need to edit the path in _author-bio.html since it assumes it is located in /images.

Including a link to your Google+ profile has the added benefit of displaying Google Authorship in Google search results if you’ve went ahead and applied for it. Don’t have a Google+ account? Just leave it blank.

Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools

Your Google Analytics ID goes here along with meta tags for Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools site verification.

Edit page/post titles and URLs to include in the site’s navigation. For external links add external: true.

# sample top navigation links
links:
  - title: About Page
    url: /about/
  - title: Posts
    url: /posts/
  - title: Other Page
    url: /other-page/
  - title: External Page
    url: http://mademistakes.com
    external: true

Adding Posts and Pages

There are two main content layouts: post.html (for posts) and page.html (for pages). Both have large feature images that span the full-width of the screen, and both are meant for long form articles and blog posts.

There are two rake tasks that can be used to create a new post or page with all YAML Front Matter. Using either rake new_post or rake new_page will prompt you for a title and tags to classify them. Example below:

rake new_post

Enter a title for your post: My Awesome Post
Enter category name to group your post in (leave blank for none): blog
Enter tags to classify your post (comma separated): web development, code
Creating new post: _posts/2014-02-10-my-awesome-post.md

There are a few configuration variables that can be changed in Rakefile.rb. By default posts and pages will be created in MarkDown using the .md extension.

Feature Images

A good rule of thumb is to keep feature images nice and wide so you don’t push the body text too far down. An image cropped around around 1024 x 256 pixels will keep file size down with an acceptable resolution for most devices. If you want to serve these images responsively I’d suggest looking at the Jekyll Picture Tag plugin2.

The two layouts make the assumption that the feature images live in the images/ folder. To add a feature image to a post or page just include the filename in the front matter like so.

image:
  feature: feature-image-filename.jpg
  thumb: thumbnail-image.jpg #keep it square 200x200 px is good

If you want to apply attribution to a feature image use the following YAML front matter on posts or pages. Image credits appear directly below the feature image with a link back to the original source.

image:
  feature: feature-image-filename.jpg
  credit: Michael Rose #name of the person or site you want to credit
  creditlink: http://mademistakes.com #url to their site or licensing

Post Index Page

A sample index page listing all posts grouped by the year they were published has been provided. The name can be customized to your liking by editing a few references. For example, to change Posts to Writing update the following:

  • In _config.yml under links: rename the title and URL to the following:
  links:
  - title: Writing
    url: /writing/
  • Rename posts.md to writing.md and update the YAML front matter to match the title and URL set in _config.yml
  • Update the View all posts link in post.html layout found in _layouts to match title and URL set previously.

Thumbnails for OG and Twitter Cards

Post and page thumbnails work the same way. These are used by Open Graph and Twitter Cards meta tags found in _head.html. If you don’t assign a thumbnail the default graphic (default-thumb.png) is used. I’d suggest changing this to something more meaningful — your logo or avatar are good options.

Table of Contents

Any article or page that you want a table of contents to render insert the following HTML in your post before the actual content. Kramdown will take care of the rest and convert all headlines into a contents list.

PS: The TOC is hidden on small devices because I haven’t gotten around to optimizing it. For now it only appears on larger screens (tablet and desktop).

<section id="table-of-contents" class="toc">
  <header>
    <h3>Contents</h3>
  </header>
<div id="drawer" markdown="1">
*  Auto generated table of contents
{:toc}
</div>
</section><!-- /#table-of-contents -->

Videos

Video embeds are responsive and scale with the width of the main content block with the help of FitVids.

Not sure if this only effects Kramdown or if it’s an issue with Markdown in general. But adding YouTube video embeds causes errors when building your Jekyll site. To fix add a space between the <iframe> tags and remove allowfullscreen. Example below:

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/PWf4WUoMXwg" frameborder="0"> </iframe>

Theme Development

If you want to easily skin the themes’ colors and fonts, take a look at variables.less in assets/less/ and make the necessary changes to the color and font variables. To make development easier I setup a Grunt build script to compile/minify the LESS files into main.min.css and lint/concatenate/minify all scripts into scripts.min.js. Install Node.js, then install Grunt, and then finally install the dependencies for the theme contained in package.json:

npm install

From the theme’s root, use grunt to rebuild the CSS, concatenate JavaScript files, and optimize .jpg, .png, and .svg files in the images/ folder. You can also use grunt watch in combination with jekyll build --watch to watch for updates to your LESS and JS files that Grunt will then automatically re-build as you write your code which will in turn auto-generate your Jekyll site when developing locally.

And if the command line isn’t your thing (you’re using Jekyll so it probably is), CodeKit for Mac OS X and Prepros for Windows are great alternatives.


Questions?

Having a problem getting something to work or want to know why I setup something in a certain way? Ping me on Twitter @mmistakes or file a GitHub Issue. And if you make something cool with this theme feel free to let me know.


License

This theme is free and open source software, distributed under the GNU General Public License version 2 or later. So feel free to use this Jekyll theme on your site without linking back to me or including a disclaimer.

  1. Used to generate absolute urls in sitemap.xml, feed.xml, and for canonical urls in _head.html. Don’t include a trailing / in your base url ie: http://mademistakes.com. When developing locally remove or comment out this line so local .css, .js, and images are used. 

  2. If you’re using GitHub Pages to host your site be aware that plugins are disabled. So you’ll need to build your site locally and then manually deploy if you want to use this sweet plugin.