Managing Site Content with Sub

No self respecting developer will tolerate writing out the same commands over and over.

Automate All the Things!

With Jekyll building the static files, I needed a way to:

  • create draft posts
  • serve drafts via localhost to review
  • publish a draft as a full post
  • build the site
  • deploy to DigitalOcean

After manually running shell commands and manually editing files, I had to automate the workflow.

I use sub to organize the various scripts that handle each part of the process.

Create Draft Posts

First step was to create a file with all the optional Front Matter a post might need.


# # Rest are optional
# categories:
# tags:
# permalink:
# excerpt: # Markdown description before the story
# description: # SEO `<meta>` description (requires an `excerpt`)
# header:
#  image: # Path to the full image for the size (1280x...)
#  image_description: # Custom `alt` tag
#  caption: # Photo credit (can be written in markdown)
#  teaser: # Path to teaser image (roughly 500x300)
#  # Hero video image
#  video:
#    id: 
#    provider:
#  # An image with text overlay and call to action button
#  overlay_image: # Path to the full image size
#  overlay_filter: 0.5 # opacity between 0.0 and 1.0 (or full `rgba(255, 0, 0, 0.5)`)
#  cta_label: # Call to action button label
#  cta_url: # URL the call to action button goes to
#  overlay_color: # Can be used rather than `overlay_image` as #ccc

You’ll notice that only title is required. Everything is commented out. Also, there’s no date attribute since this is a draft.

When I begin writing a draft I run:

site draft whatever-the-post-slug-will-be

which runs:

set -u
set -e

cp _drafts/ _drafts/${1}.md
exec $EDITOR _drafts/${1}.md

A simple script to copy the template into the _drafts/ folder with the slug name and then fire up my editor (NeoVim.)

Previewing Drafts on Localhost

Jekyll can preview drafts on the localhost. I run:

site serve

which executes:


set -x
set -e

jekyll serve -D --watch

in a separate tmux pane. Jekyll is configured to watch for changes and rebuild the draft for preview.


Once I’m happy with a draft it’s time to publish it (meaning promoting it from _drafts/ into _posts/.)

site publish whatever-the-post-slug-will-be

Which runs:

#! /usr/bin/env ruby
# Copy the file from the drafts folder, add the current date, and update the
# filename.  Remove any commented out lines from the front matter.

now =
draft = File.basename(ARGV[0], '.md')
draft_filename = File.join('_drafts', "#{draft_filename}.md")
post_filename = File.join('_posts', "#{now.strftime('%Y-%m-%d')}-#{draft}.md")
post =, 'w')

state = :start

open(draft_filename).readlines.each do |line|
  if (state == :start || state == :in_front_matter) && line =~ /^---/
    post.puts line

    if state == :start
      post.puts "date: #{now.strftime('%Y-%m-%d %H:%M:%S %:z')}"

      state = :in_front_matter
      state = :body
  elsif state == :in_front_matter && (line =~ /^#/ || line =~ /^\s$/)
    # Skip all the comment lines in the front matter
    post.puts line


File.unlink(draft_filename) if File.exist?(post_filename)

This Ruby script:

  1. Adds the current date attribute to the Front Matter
  2. Removes all the commented out lines in the Front Matter
  3. Moves the file from the _drafts folder to the _posts folder and prefixes the current date to the file.

Deploy Updates to Production

With everything ready, it’s time to deploy the changes to the site. One last script:

site deploy



$_SITE_ROOT/bin/site build
rsync -crvz --delete-after --delete-excluded  _site/ wormbytes:/var/www/

First we build the site:


set -u
set -e

jekyll build

and then copy the _site/ directory up to the DigitalOcean production server, deleting any files that have been removed and updating any new files.