Clean URLs in Jekyll

Posted on The Distress Signal | web-development

GitHub Pages recently updated its service to start using the latest major version of Jekyll—that’s 3.0 for those keeping score at home. Aside from incremental regeneration—which I love when I’m working with rather large sites—the thing I’m most excited about in 3.0 is extension-less URLs.

No one want’s to look at those ugly extensions, right? The worst. Seriously though, if you’re migrating from a standard LAMP Stack CMS like Drupal or WordPress, you can now chop off those extensions without worrying about redirecting everything—an especially painful process on GitHub Pages where you can’t have a bunch of directives in an .htaccess file.

Here’s the trick, once you’ve set your permalink style in the config file, you still need a server that understands the extensionless route and can serve up the right file. For hosting, this shouldn’t be a problem—GitHub Pages even handles this right out of the box. In your local workflow, there are a few more hoops to jump through.

var hygienist   = require('hygienist-middleware');
var bs          = require('browser-sync');

gulp.task('serve', function() {
          baseDir: "build",
          middleware: hygienist("build")
        notify: false,

If, like me, you’re using a Node server for local development you can take advantage of some of the great Middleware available for Connect like this plugin to modify URLs before handing requests off to the server. Just pass in the root directory so it knows where to look for the files, see above.

Jekyll has really come a long way in the last year and a half. Collections, native support for pre-processors, a Liquid profiler, incremental regeneration, clean URLs, and more. Combined with a decoupled CMS like Contentful or Siteleaf, using Jekyll for clients is quickly becoming more and more of a solid choice.