Matt Gemmell

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Staging drafts with Jekyll

code & jekyll 3 min read

As I’ve mentioned previously, this site is built statically with the excellent Jekyll. If you’re a fellow Jekyll user, you might find this useful.

I wrote a script to easily stage (and unstage) draft posts for Jekyll’s built-in web server, letting you temporarily move aside all other posts and just build the site with the one you’re working on. Jekyll’s creator, Parker Moore, was kind enough to submit a pull-request, and the script is now a Ruby gem (my first one ever).

You can find the code on github, and you can install the gem by running gem install jekyll-staging in your terminal.

The remainder of this article is extracted from the README file in the repository.

What is it?

It’s a Ruby gem that stages and unstages draft posts for Jekyll’s internal server.

What are its requirements?

All you need is Ruby. Grab it by running gem install jekyll-staging in your terminal.

What does it do?

This gem is for people who:

  1. Use Jekyll to build their static sites.

  2. Keep their drafts outside of Jekyll’s folder structure.

  3. Like to work on posts using Jekyll’s built-in web server.

If you have a lot of posts, Jekyll’s rebuild process can take a while, so it can be handy to temporarily move all of your existing posts aside while you work on a draft. That’s what this gem does.

It lets you specify a given draft post, and it’ll move it into Jekyll’s folder structure (appropriately prefixing its filename with today’s date). Then, it moves all other posts aside temporarily. That way, Jekyll’s build and regeneration process will be super-fast while you’re working on the draft.

It can also reverse the process when you’re done, of course, putting the draft back into your drafts folder and restoring all your existing posts.

Note: It’s assumed that your drafts’ filenames don’t already have date-prefixes. Personally, I only add the date-prefixes when I’m ready to publish a new post. I often work on posts for several days, so it’s easier that way.

How do I use it?

Run the gem without any arguments to see usage instructions. Be sure to run the gem from your Jekyll site’s root directory.

On the first run (per site), you’ll be asked three configuration questions. The appropriate options will be stored in a .jekyll-stagingrc file in your site’s root.


  • stage FILENAME_GLOB stages the first matching draft.
  • stage -u unstages the first staged post.
  • stage -u FILENAME_GLOB unstages the first matching staged post.

You don’t need to specify full paths, because it’ll be looking in your drafts folder anyway. Feel free to use partial filenames, and shell glob patterns. If there’s more than one match, it’ll use the first one, and it’ll output the full list of matches as well as the filename it chose.

Let’s say you had a draft whose filename was my-new-iphone.markdown. A typical workflow would be as follows. It assumes you’re already in your Jekyll site’s root directory.

  1. stage iphone (stage the draft for Jekyll)

  2. jekyll serve (start the built-in web server)

  3. Edit your post as you see fit, and view it in your browser. When you’re done, kill Jekyll’s web server.

  4. stage -u (unstage the draft, putting it back in your drafts folder)

You can then decide whether to publish the post, and build and deploy your site as usual.

In a directory called “_stash”, in your Jekyll site’s local root directory. The directory will be created if necessary.

Should I run it on my server?

Nope. I run it on my local machine, and so should you.

Who made it?

Matt Gemmell (that’s me).

What license is the code released under?

Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike.

Can you provide support?

Nope. If you find a bug, please fix it and submit a pull request on github.

I have a feature request or bug report.

Please create an issue on github.

How can I thank you?

You can: