Blog author attribution using Jekyll

by Geoff Blair, 2011 Sep 26

Since converting our website/blog to use Jekyll we’ve had a chance to dig a bit deeper into the usage of the framework. One of the first features we tackled was author attribution in blog posts. In this post I’ll cover our approach in detail.

Our goal was to display, at the very least, the author’s name and Gravatar on each blog post. Originally, we hard-coded these values in the YAML Front Matter. For example:

layout: article
title: Catchy blog post title
post_author: Geoff Blair
post_gravatar: 76dbcc74021b8039f14c7b583978b56d
This is the post content.

Rendering this data was very straightforward:

<div class="post">
	<div class="meta">
		<img src="http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/{{ page.post_gravatar }}?s=40">
		<span class="author">{{ page.post_author }}</span>
	{{ content }}

This approach worked decently but has some obvious drawbacks. We found ourselves opening previous blog posts by the desired author and copy/pasting the author data into a new file. While this doesn’t take up an extraordinary amount of time, there certainly had to be a more elegant solution.

Ideally, specifying an author would be as simple as adding a key author: geoff or author: matt to a blog post and looking up the rest of the info defined elsewhere.

After some reading the Jekyll wiki page on Template Data I found that Jekyll exposes anything in _config.yml through the site variable:

As of 0.5.2, all data inside of your _config.yml is now available through the site variable. So for example, if you have url: http://mysite.com in your configuration file, then in your posts and pages it can be used like so: {{ site.url }}.

With that in mind, I created a data structure in _config.yml to represent post authors:

    display_name: Matt Hackett
    gravatar: 60fd5218fff6927c0ed376cce01c5460
    email: matt@lostdecadegames.com
    web: http://www.richtaur.com/
    twitter: richtaur
    github: richtaur
    display_name: Geoff Blair
    gravatar: 76dbcc74021b8039f14c7b583978b56d
    email: geoff@lostdecadegames.com
    web: http://www.geoffblair.com/
    twitter: geoffblair
    github: geoffb

Rendering author information is almost as easy as before, we just need to grab a reference to the current author’s data in our post template:

{% assign author = site.authors[page.author] %}
<div class="post">
	<div class="meta">
		<img src="http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/{{ author.gravatar }}?s=40">
		<span class="author">{{ author.display_name }}</span>
	{{ content }}

Nice and clean!

Another benefit of this setup is that we can use the author data elsewhere, too. Take a look at the source for our about page for an example.

We’re pretty happy with this approach. Let us know on Twitter or by email if you know of a better way!

Follow author @geoffblair

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